Thus Massimo Faggioli now sarcastically writes about PF in La Croix, Mr Mickens' little organ. Since PF's reaction to the Amazon Synod, which lots of people found inadequate, the feeling seems to be arising in some circles that PF is no longer quite doing what they wanted and expected of him. As Faggioli makes clear, structural changes in the ministry, involving a married presbyterate and a women's ministry, were expected. Instead (and I am surprised that so little atention has been paid to this) PF strongly emphasised the necessity for sacerdotal ministries to be solely open to males. So, instead of that particular door being edged slightly open, it has been slammed even more firmly shut. Should an imaginary future pope wish to make such changes, he would be obliged to find a way round the utterances of S Paul VI, of S John Paul II, and also those of Pope Francis. This, for some, is distinctly Not What The Doctor Ordered.
Having been enthusiastic ultrahyperpapalists when they thought PF was their pliable instrument, these people are growing more and more tetchy.
And I suspect that there is also an awkwardness with regard to the "German Synod". This initiative was publicised loudly by Brother Teuton as being "binding". What that means is that Diocesan Bishops would be expected to obey it. But the legislation left in place by Benedict XVI and Mueller emphasised the principle that a Diocesan Bishop cannot be overruled in an Episcopal Conference. If a Conference is unanimous, then, by definition, its teaching is the teaching of each individual bishop. But if an item fails to reach unanimity, then the matter has to be referred to the Holy See. Thus the 'binding synod' is a crude, bully-boy way of trying to get round the restrictions attached to episcopal conferences.
Those restrictions are themselves expressions of the autonomy (within bounds) of the 'local church', which, in Catholic Theology means not a 'National Church' but a diocesan church, the Bishop with his Presbyters, his Deacons, and his laos.
I would not be at all surprised if it were to transpire that Cardinal Ladaria, Prefect of the CDF, has explained this to PF.
PF is manifestly uneasy about this Germanic grab for power which contradicts sound and established Catholic Ecclesiology.
What now follows is a post I published on 12 October, itself quoting a post of October 5.
With my usual admirable prescience, on Monday October 5, I wrote:
"Some of you might not like the following bit. PF seems to me less focussed on slandering Traddy clergy than he used to be in his old, carefree days. ... some orthodox edicts have emerged from the CDF with PF's say-so. Could it be ... has he belatedly realised that high church clerics and ecclesiastical millinery are no longer the Enemy's main threat ..."
According to La Croix, Mr Robert Mickens, formerly of The Tablet before the 'Rat's funeral' episode, is (like Baby in Private Eye) Very Angry.
"Should one criticise the pope -- for any reason whatever -- the Francis groupies and self-appointed interpreters of his every thought and action will brand that fratello (or sorella) as an ideologue.
"'My pope, right or wrong.' That is understandable.
"But if you look at the pope's fiercest defenders, at least at those who seem to spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, the motto has turned into 'My pope is never wrong.'
"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. But he is only a human being. And like all human beings, he can be wrong. In fact, he has shown in the past -- as in the case of sex abuse in Chile, as just one example -- that he can be spectacularly and devastatingly wrong.
"His aides and so-called friends and fans do him no favours by jumping through hoops to defend him when his words and actions are indefensible."
Well, so you read it here first. PF is now apotheosed into being yet another of the Gods That Failed.
I simply adore the word "BUT" (vide supra). It is a glorious sparkling poppet of a word.
"You have worked for this firm for 38 years; always first into the office and the last to leave; your devotion led to the break-down of your marriage. And you have never sought pay rises. You are popular and have no enemies. The firm could not have survived its last crisis without your incredible sacrifice of yourself to its interests. BUT I am going to have to ... as we say ... 'let you go' ..."
"BUT" discounts in advance every consideration the victim might ... if allowed Parrhesia ... have advanced; "BUT" means "All the stuff I've just said is irrelevant, so don't bother to say it; only what follows is valid."
I like to imagine that the great Harry Clarke (whose luminous jewel-like glass in so many of her churches is one of Ireland's greatest glories) would have portrayed "BUT" (although an asomaton pneuma) as a darkly purple-winged figure with shining, black, inexorable eyes and a pitiless upraised right hand about to perform execution with a sharp and two-edged sword.
"Pope Francis has been a great gift to the Church and to the world. BUT"
Mr Mickens never wrote a truer word.