Fr Thomas Rosica is a part of the Vatican Machine. He used to sit at the table during Vatican Press Conferences, defending the interests of the English Language and of his fellow Anglophones (he is a subject of The Queen's Majesty of Canada). He gave an impression of intelligence, competence, and imperturbability. He appeared to have a sense of language and of words.
On July 31, 2018, he published a piece on a platform called "Salt + Light Media". Towards the end of it, he wrote as follows:
"Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is 'free from disordered attachments.' Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture."
Philological questions: Why is the phrase 'free from disordered attachments' placed within the indications of reported speech? Is there significance in the initial t- of 'tradition' being lower case? Am I right to assume that 'its own' means 'the Church's own'?
The initial assertion that PF breaks 'traditions' is vague. In modern Anglophone culture, 'traditions' can easily mean minor picturesque and antiquarian oddities, such as keeping ravens in the Tower of London as guarantees that it will never be captured by the enemies of the realm, and objects for Japanese tourists to photograph. But when, later in this passage, the word is put in the singular, a different implication is evident: that the writer is entering those areas of theological discourse in which we discuss Tradition and Scripture together (or separately) as sources (or a source) of authoritative teaching.
A claim that a pope does or can set aside Scripture and Tradition can hardly be coherent with the teachings of the Council of Trent or Vatican I.
Prima facie, it appears to be formally heretical.
The assertion that the Church is 'openly ruled by an individual' suggests a personal monarchicalism which is difficult to reconcile with sound doctrine and, indeed, is hardly likely to appeal very much to the modern mind either.
The progressive logic of the second sentence appears to suggest that, while previously the Church was governed by a hierarchy which gave respect to Scripture and Tradition, she has now 'indeed entered a new phase' in which this has ceased to be true. This is a form of 'rupturalism' which seems to go far beyond even the controversial assumptions of the 'Bologna School' in their hermeneutic of Vatican II.
Does the assertion that PF is free from disordered attachments mean that, being, like our Lady, untouched by Original Sin and its consequences, he has a prelapsarian immunity from erring in his choices?
I find it hard to believe that members of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity can have been happy with the claim that PF's pontificate is free from Scripture or Tradition. Orthodox and Evangelicals alike, if they have read those words, are likely to have resolved that there is a far greater chasm now between themselves and the papal communion than they could ever possibly have dreamed there was before. (Orthodox, in particular, have their own internal reasons currently for being very shy of 'the heresy of papism'.) Anglicans and Lutherans may have heaved great sighs of relief that they never took dialogue with Rome very seriously and that, most mercifully, nothing much ever came of it anyway. You need to keep the peddlers of this sort of religious absurdity at several arms' lengths.
Rosica's words seem to me to represent the most extreme form of the ultrapapalist error that I have yet encountered. Most Bergoglian ideologues at least tend, with boring consistency, to attribute the problematic utterances of this pontificate to the Holy Spirit; or to invoke, inaccurately, Newman's views about 'development'. Rosica dares to attribute to PF, with approval, a right simply to change things 'whenever he wants' ... in other words, at whimsy. My own cultural tradition condemns such attitudes with talk of 'arbitrary power'. I wonder how common such unashamed ultrabourbonism is in Canada.
I would not myself like to be judged too harshly on the basis of everything I have ever written. We can all of us misspeak, and even miswrite. Probably, I do so much more often than I should. But, given his high profile, you would have thought that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might have asked Fr Tom for explanations and clarifications in such a way that he would by now have formally recanted his very public prima facie heresies.
I wonder if they have?
Whether they have or not, whether or not he has recanted, the words he wrote stand in the evidential record as a most disturbing revelation of the extent to which grave formal doctrinal error is part and parcel of the everyday working assumptions of the 'sycophants and careerists' (well chosen words of Cardinal Mueller) who surround PF; the regular currency which passes from hand to hand in the Domus Sanctae Marthae..
It is not surprising that matters in Christ's Church Militant are as dangerously bad as they are. The Gates of Hell must be feeling quite optimistic. S Paul VI spoke about the Smoke of Satan entering the Church through a fissure; in hoc aevo Bergogliano weapons-grade Poison Gas appears to have become the problem.
Apparently, our Enemy is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention.