Thursday 28 March 2013

Dangerous development under new Pope

Spot the difference.

Pope Francis has decided to stay  at the Domus Sanctae Martae - for the time being, according to Press Secretary Fr Lombardi. Another example of the new Holy Father finding his feet and wanting to do things in his own style.  A new departure? Well, hardly.  The Popes have lived in many different places in the Vatican and in Rome (as well as outside it during the Avignon sojourn). 

What about cutting back to a more austere personal style? Well, on the second day after his election Pope Leo XIII crossed the Tiber incognito to his former residence in the Falconieri Palace to collect his papers, then after being crowned in the Sistine Chapel on 3rd March 1878, he at once began a reform of the papal household on more austere and economic lines.

What about all this fuss of his pectoral cross?  What a new innovation to wear one not made of solid gold!  Well, no actually.  When the newly elected Pope Pius X continued to wear the same pectoral cross made of gilded metal on the day of his coronation, his entourage was horrified, the new pope complained that he always wore it and that he had brought no other with him. He too was well known for cutting down on papal ceremonies. 

Pope Francis likes to dine at the Domus Sanctae Martae with no seat reserved for him and interact with the others staying there.  More departure from custom.  Tut tut.  Except that Pope Pius X also abolished the custom of the pope dining alone (which had been established by Pope Urban VIII), and  invited his friends to eat with him.

Pope Francis was been seen giving out Easter Eggs after Mass - albeit emblazoned with he papal coat of arms.  Also not a first.  Pope Pius X developed the habit of carrying sweets in his pockets for the street urchins in Mantua and Venice, and taught catechism to them. During papal audiences, he would gather children around him and talk to them about things that interested them. His weekly catechism lessons in the courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican always included a special place for children, and his decision to require the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in every parish was partly motivated by a desire to reclaim children from religious ignorance.  If chocolate is what it takes to win people back from religious ignorance - let's have more chocolate!

In other words, Pope Francis does not in fact have a completely new style.  It may differ from a Pope Benedict or a Pope John Paul but it is not a challenge to orthodoxy or to our Catholic Tradition or traditions.  The dangerous development under this new Pontificate does not come from the Holy Father but from elements in the media and secular world who are gleefully trying to interpret the new Papacy with that now disgraced tool - the hermeneutic of rupture - and just as with the Second Vatican Council, that is one hermeneutic we can do without.  Sadly, the same defunct interpretation of  rupture is also being peddled by some within the Church, presumably the same ideologues who applied it to Vatican II and have since found themselves on the back foot when the Holy Spirit drew people to return to the fullness of Christ's Truth, which has been treasured at the heart of his Church in every century and decade (including those between Trent and Vatican II).  It is being used to attack those who never liked Pope Benedict but it must always become, ultimately, an attack on the Church itself.

We must not allow the smoke of Satan to fill the gap between the pontificates of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  When it comes to Popes, the hermeneutic of continuity takes us back not just to Pope Benedict but all the way back to Pope Peter - and the same One that put them both in that position.

As I write this I've just seen the Holy Father start the Chrism Mass:

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti... Amen!


Unknown said...

Glad to see you are back on the radar Fr. I've missed not being updated with the latest news from the European Continent. Just got back from The Lord's Supper Mass at St. Joseph's,Picton, South Island, New Zealand. All at St. Catherines are in my thoughts and prayers, especially at this time of year. God Bless

Genty said...

Mixing in is also a very way of finding out what people are really thinking and will give Pope Francis the bones of his strategy.
But there will come a time when he will have had enough of every gripe and groan and, dare I say it, familiarity.
The office will change him in some ways. Promotion tends to do that. It could be an interesting pontificate - I hope!

Anonymous said...

"We must not allow the smoke of Satan to fill the gap between the pontificates of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis". Thank you for this! And what a good Ignatian image - straight from the Two Standards.

Sitsio said...

Great post Father, very valuable I really enjoyed it- thanks!

GOR said...

And another thing…it has been reported that when he goes to the chapel in the Domus, he always sits in the back pew. That gives cover to all of us ‘retiring’ types who inhabit the rear pews in church!

Of course in Pope Francis’ case it is probably his humility – thinking of himself like the Publican in the Temple. The rest of us…? Perhaps, not so much.

Lazarus said...

Thank you for putting this into an historical context, Father. Catholics are different and Popes are different: each person can illumine the divine richness in different ways without deviating one iota from the rock of truth.

Clement said...

Pope Francis hopefully will clear away the ideas and pomposity you and many of your followers seem to thrive on.

Young catholic said...

I am not sure that I understand either the purpose or the meaning of the last post by 'Clement' - very peculiar.

Very encouraging post Fr, certainly one which represents the greatness of the Cathic Church .... Certainly the central tenat of this pontificat, as all 'modern' Popes have done before him, is to pray to the Lord that in all things "He must increase, but I must decrease".

Remember the example of St Francis of Assisi who "was meticulous in the ceremonials of the Mass, insisting that every sacred vessel and vestment be the best, and his Rule dismissed any Friar who parted from the Pope on the slightest article of faith".

The Mass is not a political tool that is so called 'High Church', 'Low Church' - it is the Mass; a prayer of infinite grace which is the PERFECT offering to God. That is why, our Catholic faith is inextricably linked with social evangelisation, at the centre of which is the Mass. As Pope Francis said at his first Mass he celebrated with the Cardinals "We are called not just to social activism, but to authentic charity" a charity which is based on the love of God (perfectly manifest in the Mass), and "when [we] do not profess Jesus Christ, [we] are confessing the worldliness of the Devil".

In short, Clement you are at best a troubled soul and at worst anti-Catholic. Oremus pro invicem.

Jacobi said...

I've got it!

Pope St Pius X wore his scull cap, nonchalantly, further back on his head!

Pope Francis I (and Benedict XVI)have theirs 1.5 cm further forward!

Lynda said...

Confusion is being created among the Fairhful.