" ... even in religious matters the Pope is bound, very considerably, by the Divine constitution of the Church. There are any number of things that the Pope cannot do in religion. He cannot modify, nor touch in any way, one single point of revelation Christ gave to the Church; his business is only to guard this against attack and false interpretation. We believe that God will so guide him that his decisions of this nature will be nothing more than a defence or unfolding of what Christ revealed. The Pope can neither make nor unmake a sacrament, he cannot affect the essence of any sacrament in any way. He cannot touch the Bible; he can neither take away a text from the inspired Scriptures nor add one to them. He has no fresh inspiration nor revelation. His business is to believe the revelation of Christ, as all Catholics believe it, and to defend it against heresy."
Thus Dr Fortescue, in his (beautifully printed!) The Early Papacy, 1920, three years before his death.
I think that readers who perused the texts I printed yesterday ... the Reply of the German Bishops to the attacks of Bismarck, and the enthusiastic approval by Pope Pius IX of what they wrote ... may be struck by the close, even verbal, similarity of Fortescue's lucid and engaging exposition to the passages I cited from Denzinger (although his book is carefully footnoted, he does not give references to these passages).
I have printed, above, in red, those of Fr Fortescue's words which laudably emphasise, just as S John Henry Newman did in his Apologia, the essentially negative function of the Petrine Ministry; it is a remora against innovation.
Like Vatican I, AF emphasises that the Roman Pontiff is not the recipient of new inspiration or revelation.
I am not a Dogmatic Theologian; but it is at this point that the praxis of this pontificate worries me most. I write, of course, subject to appropriate correction, but the persistent suggestion that the Holy Spirit is using Pope Francis to guide the Church into "surprises", seems to me, prima facie, so diametrically opposed to the clear words of Vatican I that I cannot help wondering if the Bergoglianity on the lips both of PF and of his admirers counts formally as heresy.
In his unfortunate Epiphany homily last week, he once again took the opportunity to roll out his tired and angry rhetoric about the Spirit of Change.
In this inordinately lengthy pontificate, already far too many painful decades long, he has expressed his own Surprise that so many, particularly the younger, turn to the Authentic forms of the Roman Rite ... it never seems to occur to him that this Surprise might just possibly be one of the Surprises of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary: his response to the Surprise of Tradition is to attempt to restrict and extinguish it it by minute and rigid regulation accompanied by intemperate abuse and sheer cruelty of action.
When the youthful lads and lasses of the Franciscans of the Immaculate developed Surprising liturgical preferences, he and his thugs soon put paid to them and that, didn't they?
Why is he so eaten up with hatred? Does it go back to unhappy childhood experiences?
I gave evidences of these Bergoglianical preoccupations in my paper published in Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies, Arouca, 2021. Among many examples, I included some words of Vincent Nichols, the retiring Archbishop of Westminster, asserting that the Holy Spirit guided PF's election and guides him daily.
Nichols claimed to be writing to PF "on the behalf of the Catholic Community of England ...".
Not in my name.