26 October 2020

Newman, Mueller, Burke, and Weinandy: where are we now in this pontificate?

Cardinal Mueller, in the last few days, has given wise guidance about how faithful Catholics should treat recent remarks attributed to the Roman Pontiff. As he puts it, "every Catholic can and should contradict" these remarks. 

I hope that readers have not forgotten this same Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto of 2019; it was and is a most  interesting document. In it, surprisingly,

he did not mention the Petrine Ministry of the Roman Pontiff.

This is unusual in modern Catholic discourse; it is the Dog which Failed To Bark In The  Night. The sickly and mawkish modern cult of the Bishop of Rome has for so long pushed the Witness of the Incarnate Word, the words of Scripture, the teaching of the Fathers, into the background. How often have you heard a semi-literate sermon in which "Pope Francis Says" is prominent, but never any hint is given of "Jesus Says"? Or "in the words of S Paul?" In his most recent remarks, Cardinal Mueller has wisely criticised "idolatrous papolatry" and warned against letting "sentimentality" contradict "the rationality of Faith".

So, if Mueller's 2019 Manifesto had no other value, that particular silence was as refreshing as a glass of cold water on a sticky day.

But why?

Possibly the Cardinal agreed with the realisation by the great Anglican theologian Eric Mascall, that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility does not so much tell us something about the Christian Faith, as about the circumstances in which we might be told something about that Faith.

But most importantly, Gerhard Mueller's words reflect and endorse the illuminating perception of S John Henry Newman about the situation during the Arian crisis:

"... the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission  ... at one time the pope*, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils*, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth ... I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years ..."

(In his statement last week, Cardinal Mueller cited Newman's observation that corruption in maters of revealed doctrine is much more serious than any other corruptions ... financial ... sexual ... )

It seems to me that the moment when PF decided not to aswer the Dubia of the four Cardinals was the formal, official moment ... the starting gun ... when the Petrine Ministry entered into its current "temporary suspense". When, likewise, he ignored the Filial Correction which some of us had sent him, he confirmed that Suspense. His determination to continue to mislead God's people by (at least) speaking ambiguously and then declining to clarify the "messes" which he creates, makes the truth of this analysis clearer day by day. Thus we are "officially" in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in a vacatio docendi which will be ended at the moment when the same Petrine Magisterial organ as formally emerges from dogmatic silence to the audible exercise of the functions rightly attributed to it in Catholic Tradition and Magisterial Conciliar definition; that is, "devoutly to guard and faithfully to set forth the Tradition received through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith".

In a masterly address on Apostasy delivered a few years ago at Buckfast, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke spoke of "The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church's pastors in the matters of Worship, teaching, and moral discipline ... ". His dear Eminence always puts things so much better than I could! After PF's recent remarks, Cardinal Burke, as he has done after earlier pieces of papal nonsense, assured the Faithful that such utterances of PF are "devoid of magisterial weight".

And, dear readers, do you remember the Letter sent to PF by Fr Tom Weinandy? He wrote that a bishop who espoused heretical teaching "would no longer bear within himself as a bishop the four defining marks of the Church  and, therefore, he could no longer justifiably act as an ecclesial member within the Church. He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensable four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry."

By joining with Newman in this analysis, and suggesting that his analysis gives coherence to the remarks of Cardinals and scholars regarding the Bergoglian Crisis, I do not, of course, in any way suggest that PF and the silent or heterodox bishops have lost the right or capacity to use the Magisterium of his and their offices. On the contrary. I say no more ... and no less ... than S John Henry did: I am simply observing that, as a matter of fact, he is not and they are not at this moment using it.

At this moment, most unhappily, Christ's Church Militant here upon earth is deprived of the guidance of its principal earthly Shepherd.

But her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

Note: Newman is referring to Pope* Liberius; and, in referring to general councils*, he does not mean Ecumenical Councils. He explained later that he follows S Robert Bellarmine in distinguishing between Ecumenical Councils and councils which, even if large, do not count as Ecumenical. So nobody should try to apply these words to Vatican II, which was undoubtedly a 'valid' Ecumenical Council. Whether it always sought all the right answers to all the right questions in all the right places is, of course, very much another matter.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Is there definitive doctrine as to what is and isn't an Ecumenical Council?

Was Vatican Two an ecumenical council in the same sense as the previous ecumenical councils were ecumenical and authoritative?

One day, us Catholics will learn it was not and owing to Vigano, us Catholics are being led to the truth of the matter as explicated by a layman, Mr. Baker:


Stephen said...

Dear Fr. H,

You write, "It seems to me...we are "officially" in a period in which the functions of the Papal Magisterium are in a vacatio docendi"

The mechanism and process by which you come to this conclusion seems to me(!) to be rather capricious in its own right. When a long line of Popes, say going back to St. Sylvester, have claimed that none can judge the Holy See, by what authority and process does one in the 21st century make such a claim as you have done?

Is there a process by which you can protest the Pope and the Holy See, and not end up a Protestant, in current Roman Catholic ecclessiology?

Thomas said...

@Stephen, I don't think Fr H is "protesting the Pope and the Holy See" but simply pointing out that they are de facto not doing their job. It is the Pope who is making that "official" by refusing to officially clarify what he says about some of the most grave moral and doctrinal issues of out day. In fact he continues to sow confusion and doubt in the minds of many with his non-magisterial remarks and actions. The facts are now all too distressingly obvious to many ordinary, middle of the road Catholics like me. He could and urgently should at any time come to his senses as St. Peter did and do his appointed job. I pray that he will very soon.

Voice from the roof top said...

Dear Fr. John Hunwicke,

Get yourself consecrated as a bishop and declare yourself Pope John XXIV. Don’t worry about being married. St. Peter was married. Many early popes were married.

Michael Leahy said...

Stephen, when the alternative to protest (a loaded word), or more accurately, disagreement, is idolatry and homosexualism, what do you suggest?

Stephen said...

I suggest that somehow the Church must find a way or ways to remove bishops who have crossed and continue to cross some line(s). Is there such a process by which the sense of the faithful, when so brutally and consistently abused, can exercise some level of accountability? There is a process, rarely used (why is that?), for groups of bishops to depose a wayward bishop - but is that possible in the RC Church if the bishop to be deposed is the Bishop of Rome? I am unaware of any such process, but would be happily disabused of my ignorance.
Beyond that, why do we have such high expectations of bishops to begin with? Time was (and I believe this is still canon law, although ignored for the most part like so many things) that a bishop was "married" to his diocese and stay there until his death. That's gone by the wayside, as has how bishops get elected in the first place. The changeable being changed, is all this scandal and power-grabs by bishops worldwide, east and west, a call by the Holy Spirit what we have vested inordinate power in our ordinaries?

Lady Jane Perdue said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke, Thank you for writing this essay, all of which rings true & clear, bringing a sense of historical perspective and peace. If we are in a state of 'suspense' it must mean Christ has our attention for good reason & resolution.

Banshee said...

I still think we're not dealing so much with "suspense" as "refusal to use."

Allowing the church and cemetery visit plenary indulgences all during November is not a suspense. Asking all priests to say three Masses on All Souls' Day is not a suspense. Heck, the St. Jerome anniversary letter was not a suspense.

Pope Francis is a poopyhead, but that's not the first time a pope has been.

Pulex said...

Stephen asked: "There is a process, rarely used (why is that?), for groups of bishops to depose a wayward bishop - but is that possible in the RC Church if the bishop to be deposed is the Bishop of Rome?"

Few years ago there was a scientific conference in France where learned men tackled exactly the same question. The proceedings are available at the profile by Cyrille Dounot on academia.edu.