"You know, we have stuck out for our position all our lives ... unity, authority. etc., Peter the Rock and so on. I have, too, and believe it. I am always preaching that sort of thing, and yet is it now getting to a reductio ad absurdum? Centralisation grows and goes madder every century. Even at Trent they hardly foresaw this kind of thing. Does it really mean that one cannot be a member of the Church of Christ without being, as we are, absolutely at the mercy of an Italian lunatic? ...
"We must pull through even this beastliness somehow. After all, it is still the Church of the Fathers that we stand by and spend our lives defending. However bad as things are, nothing else is possible. I think that when I look at Rome, I see powerful arguments against us, but when I look at the Church of England ... I see still more powerful arguments for us. But of course, saving a total collapse, things are as bad as they can be. Give us back the tenth century Johns and Stephens, or a Borgia!
"They were less disastrous than this deplorable person. ...
Today is the obit, the Year's Mind of Fr Adrian Fortescue, who died in 1923. Fr Aidan Nichols' book about him, The Latin Clerk, revealed him to be a great deal more than a precise rubricist. The quotations above are from letters Fortescue wrote to recipients including Fr Thurston.
Mgr Ronald Knox wrote about Fortescue "Perhaps he had too much sense of humour to be altogether a great man: he lacked pomposity." (And, of course, Knox has himself tucked away a sweet little barb in those few words.)
Perhaps one should not be too hard on popes. The current crisis arising from their embarrassing overmagnification of their office (one has to exclude Benedict XVI from this stricture) is, surely, the product of faster media communications and the temptations which they can place in the way of natural windbags.
Reading Opus Publicum, Dr DeVille, and Professor Tighe has reminded me of Fortescue.