18 May 2020


Well, say what you like, the centenary of the birth of S John Paul II is a great deal more significant than a lot of the rubbish we are asked to 'celebrate'.

I intend now a briefish summary of points I have made before. I know that the line I will be taking is unpalatable to many. I am prepared to accept comments which make this clear, but not if they seem to me long, or even longish, or even a bit long.

I see the combined pontificates of S John Paul and of Pope Bebedict, lasting together about a quarter of a century, as essentially a single Magisterial period in which the two men worked both collaboratively and effectively. I see it as one in which large parts of orthodoxy were normatively restored. I regard the document Veritatis splendor as being of great importance.

During this period, and particularly after his own Election, Benedict worked to establish precedents which, in an organisation which works on precedent, matters.

He declared in Summorum Pontificum  that the Old Rite had, canonically, never been abrogated. And to this he added a theological assertion that it cannot  be abrogated. Pushed to explicit clarity, this means that a pope who tried to do so would be acting ultra vires. So this is on the record.

By his choice of liturgical vesture, Benedict emphasised that he was the successor both of the pre-Conciliar popes and of the post-Conciliar popes. He asserted evolution-with-continuity by replacing the heraldic triregnum with a heraldic mitre which recalled the tiara by its three horizontal bands.

He made theologically significant changes to the rites of canonisation. These have now been undone by his successor; but it is the programmatic intention to which I am drawing attention.

Acute readers will be able think of additional examples.

And Assisi ... and its, er, 'spirit' ... (Here I draw upon Chiesa ...).

I believe that Benedict considered the model for the Assisi Event bequeathed by his predecessor to have been unsatisfactory. He had declined to attend the first such event. In my view, he desired to put in place a changed model which, he hoped, would be the precedent to which his own successors would look back for guidance.

So, at Benedict's Assisi, there were no times of visible and organised prayer among the participants, not even 'in parallel'. Instead, the (300) guests were given individual rooms for "a time of silence, for reflection and/or personal prayer". In a letter (2006) to the Bishop of Assisi, he wrote
"In order not to misrepresent the meaning of what John Paul II wanted to achieve in 1986, and what, to use his own words, he habitually called the Spirit of Assisi, it is important not to forget the attention paid on that occasion to ensuring that the interreligious Prayer Meeting did not lend itself to syncretist interpretations founded on a relativistic concept. For this very reason, John Paul II declared at the outset 'The fact that we have come here does not imply any intention of seeking a religious consensus among ourselves or of negotiating our faith convictions. Neither does it mean that religions can be reconciled at the level of a common commitment in an earthly project which would surpass them all. Nor is it a concession to relativism in religious beliefs.'".

And it was Joseph Ratzinger who issued the very fine CDF document Dominus Iesus. The measure of its orthodoxy and its importance can be gauged by the uproar which it caused among the the bad, the mad, the stupid, and the unorthodox.

And it is a measure of the littleness of PF that, instead of building on the quarter-century of work and prayer and Magisterium which he inherited, he apparently is willing to give countenance to those who wish to unravel it and to create new and contrary 'facts'.


fitzhamilton said...

St. Pope Pius V is the great model - precedent - for overturning and homogenizing (liturgical) tradition. He imposed the Roman Rite on the Western Church, negating most local traditions, while simultaneously proclaiming his missal perpetual. To quote him, from Quo Primum:

Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used.

We don't need Benedict's recent edict, we have St. Pius's "more ancient" precedent already.

The fact that St. Pius was a mendicant, a Dominican, like his Franciscan brothers a vociferous advocate of absolute papal juridical supremacy over the Universal Church, is entirely in keeping with the "Spirit of Assisi" and hence the "Spirit of Vatican I & II" that we are now afflicted with.. I merely comment upon this in passing.

PM said...

It should not need to be said, but sadly does, that the much reviled Dominus Iesus is a faithful and accurate restatement of what the decrees of the council (especially Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum) actually said.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger said he'd be silent after abdicating.

Of course, he has since sad he has a mandate but he will not tell his readers where the mandate came from but it certainly did not come from his office as Pope.

He abdicated but still wears white, calls himself Pope, and dispenses Apostolic Blessings.

Now, imagine if Richard Nixon called his own self POTUS Emeritus Nixon after he abdicated and delivered his opinions standing behind a podium with the presidential seal on it and issued pardons, as the band played Hail to the chief, – all the while claiming he is no longer POTUS.

Would citizens be forgiven for thinking there were two POTUS?

He could end the two popes scandal but he won't.

Fr PJM said...

Twice magisterial documents caused me to gasp gasp and then to dance for joy: in 1994, Ordinatio sacerdotalis, when I reached these words: "...and this judgment is definitely to be held, by all the Faithful". And the second, on July 7, 2007: "...which has never been abrogated". Dear Benedict didn't have to say that, but Deo gratias, he did! Great is the truth and it will be victorious!

Damasus said...

One thing only: both pontificates lasted 35 years together - exactly 10 years more than a quarter of a century...just saying.

John F. Kennedy said...

JPII, how I miss him, could not pick bishops or Cardinals that actually believed the Faith. The list of turncoats is very long.

ABS, "Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger said he'd be silent after abdicating."

But he isn't a Bishop Emeritus, he's something else..... He clearly, at least to my seeing eyes, thinks he HAS in some manner the munus of the Office at LEAST in a SPIRITUAL manner...somehow....some way.....

Sure maybe he was correct when he said there were no black cassocks available......

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Damasus

Sorry; I was summarising what I'd said before . I should have been more careful and referred to the quarter century of their collaboration, since R was made prefect of the cdf.

Banshee said...

The white cassock symbolized the Order of the Dominicans before it symbolized the Popes, and someone who has been a successor of Peter doesn't stop being an apostolic man.

But that doesn't mean he's a pope. He's an ex-pope, of the order of popes and ex-popes living and dead, and he's wearing the same thing Celestine wore. He's not wearing the Fisherman's Ring or the Triple Tiara or red shoes, or anything else of that nature.

Whether or not this is a super-de-duper prudent move, it's the sort of thing that professors emeriti and other ex-holders of office do, and that retired bishops do. So it's understandable if people want to understand it.

OTOH, if he'd decided to do like the ex-kings in the SCA, and wear a special colored belt or accessory to denote his ex-papalness, that would probably have been more prudent. People like these things to be clear in a positive way, not by the absence of other signs.

John F. Kennedy said...


Ratzinger was never a member of the Order of the Dominicans so it would be strange for a man his age to begin to wear their clothing, a symbol of their order now, in retirement. Or did I miss something and he joined that august order? Or is it just another Stolen Valor story?

Why not the brown Franciscan habit, the magenta cassock a diocesan Bishop or even the red of a Cardinal? Are all of them also NOT available in the Vatican? Well, we know from a "trusted source" the black ones aren't available....

He does wear his ring. I've seen photos of him wearing it and it's been of source of controversy that he does wear it. I don't know if he wears it all of the time, but I would be surprised if he doesn't.

No Pope since J23rd has worn the Triple Tiara. Were they not Popes too? B16 didn't before his retirement, why should he start now? It would be MORE in keeping with him NOT being pope IF he should start wearing it, since the Popes DON'T wear it.

As far as I know only B16 has worn the red shoes since J23rd. A quick image search show that he wears black or brown shoes and sometimes a thick black sandal. The Prada red shoes were only in the news because he was often being condemned for wearing them. Of course we know PF, the Humble, only wears worn black shoes of some sort.

John F. Kennedy said...

Oops, my mistake. Paul VI did wear the Triple Tiara in 1963 at his coronation.