24 June 2021

Again, PF repudiates the Petrine Ministry

Oh dear! Last night, I put the finishing touches to a piece, in advance, about Pope S Leo II, scheduled to pop up next Monday ... and now PF has got his reply in first, explaining why, in his view, I'm wrong.

Let me put my cards upon the table. 

"My" conception of the Petrine Ministry is what was defined by Vatican I in 1870. I believe, ex animo, that the Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of S Peter so that, by His revelation, they should propagate new doctrines, but so that, with His help, they should devoutly hand on the Tradition, the Deposit of the Faith, which they have received through the Apostles.

I condemn what Vatican I condemned  both because Vatican I gives me the authentic Teaching of the Catholic Church which demands my unconditional adherence and because (happily for me) it coheres with my own understanding of the Catholic Faith.

Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I got things right. When I teach the same, I am getting things right. When PF teaches the opposite, he is getting things wrong.

PF says he going to tell us all about S Paul's Letter to the Galatians. But you don't need to wait for him to do this. Even in this pontificate, you are allowed to read the Epistles of S Paul for yourself.  And here is the programmatic statement which launches this magnificent Epistle on its way:

"If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received [par' ho parelabete], let him be accursed [anathema esto]." 

S Paul says in Galatians precisely what Vatican I taught. "What you received" Rules OK. If anyone teaches the opposite, Anathema. 

PF's approach is the same now as it was in his 2017 homily at the Easter Vigil, which I analysed in Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies (pp 207ff). PF claims that those who disagree with his own new dogmas are in a situation analogous to that of those who disagreed with the Lord ... or (in this recent address) disagreed with S Paul.

But this is not only arrogant almost beyond belief. It is also blasphemous. PF is not Jesus. There is to be no Third Age with new teaching. Moses' version of the Law was "fulfilled" by that of Jesus, but PF is not a Third Lawgiver sent to supersede Jesus. 

PF is so determined, so aggressive, so persistent, and so offensive when he attacks his critics that I suspect him, deep down, of knowing that he is wrong. But, having dug himself into a hole, he sees no alternative but to keep digging. However, there is an alternative: it is called metanoia, Repentance. The reason why Pride is such a disastrous sin is that it makes metanoia so terribly difficult.

PF has read parts of the New Testament, and has come up with a formula "The baddies are those who adhere rigidly to the Old and will not hear the New". Because. prima facie, this fits the teaching of Jesus and the reaction of those who opposed Him, PF is cheerfully confident that he can fit the same hermeneutical template onto this present period within his own pontificate ... with himself centre stage, covered in grease paint and doing an Olivier in the comfortable role of Jesus.

The reason why he cannot do this (and must not be allowed to get away with this tawdry trick) is that what he, PF, so constantly attacks is the New; the Good News which lives in the Gospel words of Jesus and in the witness of S Paul.


PM said...

On another front, however, we have what looks like a diplomatic retreat from the ban on private Masses in St Peter's.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Here is Vatican 1 on The Pope:

Chapter 2.

On the permanence of the primacy of blessed Peter in the Roman pontiffs

1. That which our lord Jesus Christ, the prince of shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, established in the blessed apostle Peter, for the continual salvation and permanent benefit of the Church, must of necessity remain for ever, by Christ's authority, in the Church which, founded as it is upon a rock, will stand firm until the end of time [45].

2. For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood 46].

3. Therefore whoever succeeds to the chair of Peter obtains by the institution of Christ himself, the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. So what the truth has ordained stands firm, and blessed Peter perseveres in the rock-like strength he was granted, and does not abandon that guidance of the Church which he once received [47].

4. For this reason it has always been necessary for every Church--that is to say the faithful throughout the world--to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body [48].

5. Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.


How many Catholics think Jesus is exercising His judgement through Pope Francis?

Jhayes said...

Because of the timing, the Pope's remarks might be taken as a comment on the the US Bishops' vote to draft a document on the Eucharist, so I was pleased to see this straightforward report of his audience on the news website of the Bishops conference


The USCCB has also issued a question-and-answer document on the proposed document, clarifying that "there will be no national policy on witholding Communion from politicians"


Jhayes said...

Here is a shorter link to thev USCCB Question and Answer document


E sapelion said...

The Church I and Pope Francis experienced in our youth was comfortable for unthinking conformists. And for people who wanted God kept safely out of their lives by following various rituals to keep Him from demanding more of me. It ran on the basis of simple slogans, strictly interpreted, ie rigidity, and when challenged by the after effects of two World Wars, it disintegrated.
That is not somewhere I want to return to. And PF has an obligation to resist its revival. Two theologians who were later regarded as conservatives expressed their unhappiness in print :-

Razing the Bastions: On the Church in This Age
by Hans Urs von Balthasar, 1952
Von Balthasar's "bastions" are barriers erected over the centuries which separated the laity from the clergy and the Church from the world. He pleads for a Church that interprets "the signs of the age," grasps them and answers them, allowing herself to be awakened by the Holy Spirit and by the age "from the bed of historical sleep for the dead of today."

“The appearance of the church in the modern era shows that in a completely new way it has become a church of heathens, and increasingly so: no longer, as it once was, a Church made up of heathens who have become Christians, but a Church of heathens, who will call themselves Christians, but have really become heathens. Heathenism is entrenched today in the church itself. That is the mark of the Church of our time and also of the new heathenism. This heathenism is actually in the church and a church in whose heart heathenism lives”
(Joseph Ratzinger, Hochland, October 1958)

Confitebor said...

"How many Catholics think Jesus is exercising His judgement through Pope Francis?"

You are referring to this passage from Pastor Aeternus:

"to this day and for ever he lives and presides and *exercises judgment* in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood"

But in that passage, the pronoun "he" refers to Peter, not Jesus. The Roman Bishop is the successor of St. Peter. As you know, Jesus is King of heaven and earth forever and ever -- He has no successor here on earth.

I assume you mistyped and meant to say "How many Catholics think Peter is exercising his judgment through Pope Francis?"

erick said...

I was recently listening to a debate on Papal infallibility, and the opponent made a very good point about the engineering of fallible versus infallible modes of Papal leadership. He asked what good is a divinely instituted Leader of the Church if, during the course of the navigation, all the crewman have to continually decide for themselves when and where the Leader is right or wrong, often coming to different factions among themselves? Imagine having to rest content with the office of a supreme arbiter on doctrine while at the same time working tirelessly to prove that the activiation of said arbitration is subject to all these minute, thinly seen, and complex conditions, such that, in the end, the laymen are the arbiters over when the supreme arbiter is really a supreme arbiter.

There is major irony here since this is precisely the opposite of where the Catholic bishops wanted to go (the ultramontanes, that is...the one's who got their way in Pastor Aeternus) with the Council of Vatican 1. To contrast the shifting sand of modernism, the Bishops wanted to show forth clearly where the anchor of the Catholic religion really is. And their resolution was not "We believe that which has been held always, by all, in all places". That is the Anglican dictum Rather, they said the Apostolic See remains free from all error according to the divine promise. To upend this by saying the Apostolic See can mislead the whole church indefinitely, just not on the rare ocassion when the Pope speaks ex cathedra seems very far fetched.

Sure, there are conditions for ex-Cathedra, but the practical measures by which this is all being interpreted today seems so far fetched from where the original definition was going.

Your thoughts?

Terry said...

I was struck, Father Hunwicke, by your description of Pope Francis as "so determined, so aggressive, so persistent, and so offensive when he attacks his critics that I suspect him, deep down, of knowing that he is wrong". It occurred to me that up until about 54 or 53 years ago* no Catholic priest (nor indeed any practising Catholic) would have dreamt of using such language in relation to a current Pope. The moral consensus (at least on the surface) and loyalty that characterised all Catholics I knew during my childhood and youth has simply evaporated. I doubt it will ever return.

I should emphasise that I am not taking sides here. I am seeking to observe and analyse the situation, as far as I can, as Adam Smith's 'impartial spectator'.

Terry Loane

* I chose to write "54 or 53 years ago" since this represents the time elapsed since the publication, respectively, of Hans Küng's Die Kirche and of Humanae Vitae

PM said...

Being in agreement with the Roman Church (para 4) means being in agreement with the pope when he speaks ex cathedral. It does not, and never has, implied an obligation to agree with his personal opinions ( CF. John XXII on the Beatific Vision, and we don't have to support the pope's favourite football team).

Nor does Vatican I's definition imply that we have to believe as a matter of faith that the pope's prudential judgments are always right. BUT we still need to take care not to undermine his office if we disagree.

Aquinas is helpful here. He does not subscribe to the blind obedience later propounded by Ignatius Loyola (if the pope says black is white then I agree). Rather, says St Thomas, if a decision goes against our wishes we should offer it up as a penance.

Fr Edward said...

One thing is absolutely certain, you will never hear from a Jesuit's lips, "Sorry, I was wrong."
Frankly, I think that the 'Spiritual Exercises' reinforce that, and they always have.

The history of the Society is full of this sort of hubris.
It's simply, "I've thought about this, and this is what I'm going to do. So let us assume that I am right, and you are wrong."
If their project fails they simply walk away from the wreckage.

Perhaps there are exceptions, but I'm still on the hunt for that most elusive of creatures, the Humble Jesuit.
The Acta of Clement XIV, of happy memory, needs some serious retrieval.

Unknown said...

Father Hunwicke, you have made very interesting points. While some make great big piles of hay out of the abdication, I prefer to simply read the words of the man who took Benedict's place as as you note, he has now several times told us he doesn't want...or even possess...the job. All on his own, having nothing to do with the abdication.

You are a convert...as am I, and one thing that always troubled me about Catholic culture involving the Pope was how far I saw it diverged from Pastor Aeternus. I read that during RCIA and wondered..."So what's the problem with Infallibility"?

That problem was made plain to me in my experience of Catholic culture where Popes have been deified. We are reaping the rotten fruit of that vast mistake today.

I recommend all read the following document from which I've posted some quotes.

My commentary:

Issued because questions immediately arose with the issuing of Pastor Aeternus {Dogma of Infallibility}, and the German Chancellor, who was of course an opponent of the Church, was one who put forth a forceful denunciation of it. The German Bishops issued a response to him clarifying what for many ever since have been questions about what it all meant. What is most important is that Pope Pius IX himself responded in full and complete agreement with the Bishops in a Magesterial document that greatly aids in our assessment of the way he intended Pastor Aeternus to be received. Repeat: this comes from Pius IX, not just some bishop or theologian, but from the very Pope who presided over the production of Pastor Aeternus. As such it is a rejection of some of the sharpest forms of ultramontanism which we see even today.


"...the application of the term 'absolute monarch' to the pope in reference to ecclesiastical affairs is not correct because he is subject to divine laws and is bound by the directives given by Christ for his Church. The pope cannot change the constitution given to the Church by her divine founder, as an earthly ruler can change the constitution of a State. In all essential points the constitution of the Church is based on divine directives, and therefore it is not subject to human arbitrariness. "

"...it is certainly not the Catholic Church that has embraced the immoral and despotic principle that the command of a superior frees one unconditionally from all personal responsibility"...

"As the Vatican Council has expressed the idea in clear and precise words and as the nature of the matter requires, infallibility is a characteristic of the papacy that refers exclusively to the supreme Magesterium of the pope; it is coextensive with the area of the infallible Magesterium of the Church in general, and it is restricted to the contents of Holy Scripture and tradition and also to the dogmas previously defined by the teaching authority of the Church."

"Responses of the Circular Letter of Chancellor Bismarck on the Interpretation of the Constitution Pastor Aeternus of the First Vatican Council", January-March 1875. Read both A. Collective Declaration of the German Bishops and .Apostolic Letter Mirabilis illa constantia the the Bishops of Germany. Citation found in Denzinger-Hünermann 3112-3117.

Tim O. said...

The opposite of rigidity is impotence.

Stephen said...

I can only guess that your take regarding the limits of papal authority, Dear Fr. H, is somewhat removed from that of many Catholic Traddies, if Mr. Michael Matt of The Remnant is representative of their approach. He wrote recently along the lines that any Pope is not bound by his predecessors - a quite logical and honest conclusion if one assumes that there are no checks to the authority of the Holy See. Now, that to me is a recipe for constant innovation and disaster (cf. Montini & Bugnini), but it is a claim that goes back to Pope Stephen. Who is to judge THE judge, without making himself THE judge? The Catholic conundrum.

Michael Leahy said...

ABS, is not your fifth point reliant on your third? If a pope thought himself to have the authority to present new doctrine, would be be following the 'guidance of the Church which he once received'?

James said...

An incisive analysis, courageous and longed for. Father presents the simple truth which apparently is outside the portfolio of those in positions who should know better.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Confitebor. It is not ABS who misunderstood this teaching. Please reread it

For no one can be in doubt, indeed it was known in every age that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, the pillar of faith and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our lord Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the human race, and that to this day and for ever he lives and presides and exercises judgment in his successors the bishops of the Holy Roman See, which he founded and consecrated with his blood 46].

Ryan Carey said...

I hope to see someday a canonical investigation of the possible nullity into the papacy of Pope Francis. It would be similar to a canonical investigation of the nullity of a purported marriage or some other sacrament. The form and matter of his election and acceptance must be investigated. And even more important, his intention. If he did not have the proper intention and understanding of what he was accepting when he became Pope, then I would think his papacy could be declared null and void? There have been so many statements from him since that indicate that he has an understanding of the papacy completely at odds with the Catholic Church.

Patrick said...

Tim O., this is the paradox of relativism. If I say "no one can be truly objective" then that applies to me as well, including what I just said. So you could view that as not really having said anything at all. It's contradictory. So I agree with Fr. Hunwicke that when PF says things like this, all he is actually doing is relenquishing his papacy. You could also say that PF is sometimes a bit rigid about rigidity...

Tim O. said...

My tautology perhaps reflects the humor of PF's relativism. If he is rigid about impotence, it explains his recent support for Fr. James Martin's ministry. If we took PF seriously, we should die of laughter. I live because PF doesn't seem to take the papacy seriously.

William said...

ABS: Confitebor is correct, and it is you who need to reread the sentence – in its entirety, not just the part you have marked in bold.

Paul Goings said...

"It occurred to me that up until about 54 or 53 years ago* no Catholic priest (nor indeed any practising Catholic) would have dreamt of using such language in relation to a current Pope."

Was it not Fr Adrian Fortescue who referred to (I believe) Pope Pius IX as "that Italian lunatic?" Quite a bit more than fifty years ago if my maths are correct...