Again HUGE news: Pope Francis explicitly endorses Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity”

You will want to read this carefully and put it in your “IMPORTANT” file.

This is, again, HUGE news.

The 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is coming up on 4 December.  We like to celebrate these great milestones in salvation history.  So, there are great doings in Trent, in the northern area of Italy which is part of the (also) German-speaking Tirol.  As is customary, Pope Francis will send a Cardinal as his personal representative.  Who better than His Eminence Walter Card. Brandmüller?

When the Pope sends a Cardinal off on one of these missions, he sends him a formal letter, charging him with his task and indicating something of his own hopes for the occasion.  The anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent is no exception.

In his letter to Card. Brandmüller, Pope Francis explicitly cites Pope Benedict XVI pontificate-defining address in 2005 to the Roman Curia in which he spoke about the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” (e.g., the Karl Rahner crowd and their descendants, still active today) and the “hermeneutic of reform”, or “hermeneutic of continuity”.

In this explicit reference Francis is aligning himself with Benedict and that key moment and concept underlying Benedict’s pontificate.

This comes in the wake of Francis writing to Archbishop Marchetto (refresh your memory HERE), a critic of one of the powerhouses of the ”hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, the so-called “Bologna School” of interpretation of the Council.  Francis surely broke a lot of liberal hearts when he referred to Marchetto (who in this matter is completely aligned with Benedict) as one of the best interpreters of the Council that he knows.

The letter of Francis to Card. Brandmüller is available in the Latin original in the Bollettino.  Here is my rapid translation of the first part of the letter, which is the important part.  I scaled down some of the flowery stuff. The second part is the usual boilerplate and of less interest.

To our Venerable Brother
Walter Cardinal (of the Holy Roman Church) Brandmüller
Deacon of St. Julian of the Flemish

Since the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Council of Trent drew to its favorable end, it is fitting that the Church recall with readier and more attentive eagerness the most rich doctrine which came out of that Council held in the Tyrol. It is certainly not without good reason that the Church has for a long time given such great care to that Council’s decrees and canons which are to be recalled and heeded, seeing that, since extremely grave matters and questions sprang up in that period, the Council Fathers employed all their diligence so that the Catholic faith should come into clearer view and be better understood. Without a doubt as the Holy Spirit inspired and prompted them, it was the Fathers’ greatest concern not only that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be defended, but also that mankind be more brightly illuminated, in order that the saving work of the Lord could be diffused throughout the entire globe and the Gospel be spread through the whole world.

Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” [interpretatio renovationis] which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: “She is a ‘subject’ which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings – 22 December 2005).

[...]

This is a significant letter.

First, it affirms that we can indeed, and rightly, Read Francis Through Benedict.

Second, it affirms that Francis is, and rightly, reading Francis Through Benedict.

Third, it strikes me that Pope Francis is making some course corrections.  He may have perceived that some in “the world” (e.g., liberals, the MSM) are not reading him accurately.  His experience with the “interview” by Scalfari ought to have made that evident.  In addition to liberal misperceptions and distorted interpretations, he has also been misjudged by many on the more conservative side of the spectrum.

As I have said all along, Pope Francis – like every Pope – has to learn how to be Pope.  He had less of an advantage coming to the See of Peter because he had not been in or around the Roman Curia.  But he is adjusting, learning, transforming.  Francis, as you can see everyday, is not static in his job.  He isn’t simply on cruise control.

Continue to pay close attention to Pope Francis, not just in sound-bites, but in the larger arcs of his talks and speeches and written documents.

This is not a bone thrown to conservatives.  This is the real deal.  This is Francis.

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This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Brick by Brick, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope Francis, Reading Francis Through Benedict, The Drill, Vatican II and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Again HUGE news: Pope Francis explicitly endorses Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity”

  1. ChrisRawlings says:

    His orthodoxy is readily apparent in the ecclesial tall grass–bishop appointments, magesterial teaching in encyclicals, for example, these crucial but little known theological dispositions on conciliar hermeneutics. But the masses pay attention to interviews with atheists instead. What shapes the future and doctrinal grounding of the Church? The tall grass! So I am thrilled that the pope is a closer when it matters most. But nobody notices because they are locked in a small, insular pop cultural bubble where the New York Times is a more reliable papal interpreter than Absp. Mueller or even Francis himself. They are fawning over a façade they created for themselves. It makes me so angry and resentful, but the pope doesn’t seem to be nearly as bothered. So I trust and pray that he, if I’m correct about his approach, is right.

  2. lsclerkin says:

    :)

  3. CatholicMD says:

    Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

  4. TNCath says:

    Another step in the right direction. I wonder if his visits with Pope Emeritus Benedict (by phone or in person) have increased in the last few weeks? Nonetheless, I hope his “learning how to be Pope” continues.

  5. Priam1184 says:

    For the most lovable and fluffiest pope evuh to have even mentioned the Council of Trent must have the ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’ crowd spitting blood. Viva Papa Francisco! Veni Sancte Spiritus!

  6. tcreek says:

    1. Pope Francis – “It is certainly not without good reason that the Church has for a long time given such great care to that Council’s decrees and canons which are to be recalled and heeded …”

    2. Saint Pope Pius V implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent and promulgated the 1570 Roman Missal that was abandoned in 1970.

    3. Return to line 1.

  7. ” . . . he is adjusting, learning, transforming” . . . sounds eerily familiar

    [Whatever that means.]

  8. HighMass says:

    Well Fr. Z. You advised us all along since Pope Francesco was elected……to be patient…..This is indeed wonderful news……it is music to our ears!

  9. marcpuckett says:

    I was about to skip that item in the Bollettino this morning, and then was so pleased that I didn’t. Thanks, Father, for this post! I was a bit puzzled by haud minus ad Tridentinum quam ad Vaticanum Concilium refert– I suppose it’s obvious in context that his Holiness means the Second, not the First, Vatican Council.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    I guess that’s one way to spin it.

    Obviously one letter does not an entire papacy define.

    Meanwhile the Catholic tour operators are pulling their collective hairs out over the newly promulgated policy for seating during the upcoming canonization mass.

    So its definitely a mixed bag.

  11. Andrew says:

    So the Pope is a Catholic?

  12. Tom in NY says:

    Don’t forget the direction in the third paragraph: “With this letter, we appoint you to celebrate the EXTRAORDINARY FORM for the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Council Fathers finished the work of the Council of Trent.”
    In the second paragraph, can we conclude he teaches that the spirit of Vatican II is the spirit of the Council of Trent? Viz., “SE….refert.”
    Salutationes omnibus..

    [I think you got out over your skis. Those words in capital letters indicates that Francis appointed the Cardinal as his Extraordinary Legate or Envoy for the event. Don't confuse missus and missa.]

  13. av8er says:

    Let’s see, the praise of Archbp Marchetto, who opposes the Bologna School of VII interpretaion, the removing of the interview with Scalfari from the Vatican’s website, now this.
    I would categorize this as a trend and not spin.
    Very good news indeed.

  14. kpoterack says:

    Tom in NY,

    Are you sure about that (Extraordinary Form?)?

    Rorate Caeli translates it as:

    “We, therefore, name You in these letters OUR EXTRAORDINARY ENVOY [Right.] to the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the day on which the Conciliar Fathers completed the works of the Council of Trent.”

  15. ClavesCoelorum says:

    And His Holiness says “Our”! :)

  16. Inigo says:

    Pope Francis is also suprisingly, like many of his venerable predecessors, Catholic.
    I’m saying since day one, that something like these statements, he’s been doing the past few weeks would come sooner or later, but nobody believes me.

    Just for the record, some other things I’ve been saying since day one:

    1. This pope will issue a document on how to interpret and truly implement VII word for word. Call it an official hermeneutical manual for the council.
    2. He will promulgate new missals for both forms of the roman rite (deleting many options in the NO, and adding prefaces and saints to the EF as BXVI suggested)
    3. At some (rather later) point in his pontificate, he will celebrate the EF publicly. I wouldn’t even be surpised if he did this on an anniversary of the future death of BXVI in form of a requiem mass.
    4. The Pope will remain Catholic.
    5. The gates of Hell will still not prevail against the Church.

  17. Tom in NY says:

    RP Moderatori et lectoribus:
    Erravi; causa patientiae vobis gratias persolvo.

  18. Geoffrey says:

    “And His Holiness says ‘Our’! :)”

    As far as I can tell, even Bl. John Paul II used the “royal we / our” in official Latin texts, but it was often translated into the vernacular as “I” / “my”, etc.

  19. jacobi says:

    We must have a Syllabus of Errors as called for by Bishop Schneider, and another Council to deal with misinterpretations of Vatican 11.

    Now I thought both were yet a long way off. After these two letters, to Marchetto and now to Brandmueller, perhaps not so far!

  20. Gratias says:

    This is a HUGE relief. I was not on board with reading Francis through Benedict.

  21. VexillaRegis says:

    Encouraging news indeed! May I make a humble suggestion regarding the abreviations for the second Vatican council: please write *Vat(ican) II* , not VII = 7 (?) or Vatican 11 (?!?) – that one would be held in a rather distant future, like a thousand years or so, LOL!

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Bishop Schneider is a wonderful man. I had the great pleasure of meeting him a few years ago, and he is correct. A Syllabus of Errors would be a great idea.

    I hope to see more hermeneutic of continuity from Pope Francis. His words and actions are way more measured than a few months ago. God bless him. And, as pointed out, he used the royal “we” as well-good sign. Very good sign.

  23. Gratias says:

    Concerning abbreviations for the Vatican Council II, I prefer V2 because it brings to mind the destructive ballistic missile used by the wicked against the free during WW2.

  24. Lin says:

    In his letter to Card. Brandmüller, Pope Francis explicitly cites Pope Benedict XVI pontificate-defining address in 2005 to the Roman Curia in which he spoke about the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” (e.g., the Karl Rahner crowd and their descendants, still active today) and the “hermeneutic of reform”, or “hermeneutic of continuity”.

    Our pastor is enamored with Karl Rahner. And today he announced he will be holding a native American liturgy to be held on Thanksgivng. He shows no signs of believing that Pope Francis is not the progressive for which he has been yearning. He once told our parish that JPII and Benedict XVI set the church back many years.

    I, for one, am somewhat relieved by your recent postings!

    [Make sure your local bishop knows about the plans for a "Native American" liturgy. What would that involve?]

  25. Legisperitus says:

    Deo gratias! May Francesco become another Pio Nono.

  26. Imrahil says:

    it is fitting that the Church recall with readier and more attentive eagerness the most rich doctrine which came out of that Council held in the Tyrol.

    I wonder whether die-hard Italians will like that part.

    Trent is situated in the region which was once called “Welschtirol” i. e. Romance-language-speaking Tyrol, or, perhaps, also South Tyrol, and is now named the Trentino after its capital. The Trentino, which speaks Italian, was claimed as “unredeemed territory” in World War I by the Italians (while, it is said, they were quite happy under the Austrian Emperor), though they ended up securing for themselves a quite big portion of German-speaking Tyrol we now know as South Tyrol (and the Italians as Upper Adige).

    Calling Trent a city in Tyrol is… in fact… shall I use the word?… traditionalist. It recalls the times of Emperor Francis Joseph.

  27. joan ellen says:

    I love reading words about Pope Francis that are in concert with my thoughts.

  28. Priam1184 says:

    A syllabus of errors a propos Vatican II would be a good idea, I suppose, but am forced to ask just how effective was Bl. Pius IX’s original Syllabus of Errors?

  29. asperges says:

    This is heartening news indeed. Now will someone please convince the Holy Father of the need to reassume a liturgical style more in keeping with his role as Pope?

    One feels he has been knocked about a bit by the (wholly predictable) reaction to ill thought out statements and interviews of the early days and the worldwide opinion that he is the long-awaited liberal pope, which is still the daily mantra of the press of the UK and the BBC. It must be a steep learning curve for him and we must still have patience. There is no clear job description after all.

  30. S.Armaticus says:

    Pop quiz sports fans.

    Q: Who wrote the following:

    “…it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. ”

    A: ?

    The answer can be found here: http://mundabor.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/some-words-from-auctorem-fidei/

    If you figured out that the passage is from Auctorem Fidei, give yourselves a pat on the back. :)

  31. SimonR says:

    I agree that there does appear to have been something of a course direction recently.

    Even Archbishop Nichols of Westminister has said that ‘The results of the English and Welsh Bishops questionnaire on family life will not be used to change the Church’s teaching, the Archbishop of Westminster said.

    And I also find that I am liking Pope Francis more and more. His homilies are reading better and better.

    And yet the prevailing image in the media appears to be of a liberal Pope who intends to change everything. Sky News review the papers daily and here is their review from Sunday 17 November.
    They also appear to believe that the Synod of Bishops “survey” is a survey which has beent sent from Rome to every parishioner imaginable! This link should take you to where the piece on the Pope begins at around 5minutes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0BMt-6z-pc&feature=player_embedded#t=312

    We know the finer details of Archbishop Muller’s intervention on divorce, the implications of the Pope’s letter about Vatican II and the recent condemnation of adolescent progressivism by Francis. The media generally neither see this nor care. For them, Francis the great liberal Pope who will change Catholicism to fit into the secular agenda. They love him for all the wrong reasons.

  32. JoseTomas says:

    @SimonR

    “The media generally neither see this nor care. For them, Francis the great liberal Pope who will change Catholicism to fit into the secular agenda. They love him for all the wrong reasons.”

    Unfortunately, it is not only the MSM who does that. RadTrads like Fratres in Unum, the Mundabor site linked above, Rorate (until very recently), and many other do exactly the same think. Let me paraphrase you:

    “Tre RadTrads generally neither see this nor care. For them, Francis the great liberal Pope who will change Catholicism to fit into the secular agenda. They hate him for all the wrong reasons.”

    In particular NONE of these recent good news was reported in the above mentioned sites, with the exception of Rorate, who seems to be coming to its senses (very) recently.

  33. e.davison49 says:

    JoseTomas: Yes, Rorate seems to be coming to its senses. At least they aren’t attacking the Pope all the time anymore.

    If they are coming to their sense about Fr. Z, they seem to be having a selfconscious meltdown about our priestly blogger host. What is their problem? Jealousy? Fr. Z used to quote them with cordial references all the time. He probably put them on the blogosphere map. These days, however, it seems that they waste no opportunity to make snide comments about him. “RadTrads” can be so unattractively bitter. Fr. Z don’t quote them very often anymore.

    We don’t need this.

  34. JoseTomas says:

    @ e.davison49

    Regarding Rorate, I believe that closing their combox did them a lot of good.

    And yes, “unattractively bitter” is a heluva good adjective for that spirit (“Spirit of Trent”? :-)

  35. Bosco says:

    @jo ellen,

    “I love reading words about Pope Francis that are in concert with my thoughts.”

    For my part I would say: I am grateful for the rare opportunity to actually read the words of Pope Francis in their entirety so that I can square them with what I have been taught.

  36. Deo Gratias, let us continue to pray for Our Holy Father Francis, Pope of Rome, reading this is very encouraging…While I do believe that Pope Francis can stand on his own words and not need to be read through anyone else, it is very encouraging to see explicit support for the hermeneutic of reform in continuity!

  37. JoseTomas says:

    An American nun read the first reading today at the Pope’s Mass.

    Did not look like an LCWR nun ! :-)

  38. Fr Jackson says:

    This is a good occasion to throw in a reminder that there is more than one “hermeneutic of continuity” – remember, someone like a Brunero Gherardini subscribes to a hermeneutic of continuity, but does not accept Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity.

    [He was one my profs.]

  39. Urs says:

    An interesting read:
    The article is titled,
    “Even the Pope Critiques Himself. And Corrects Three Errors”
    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350668?eng=y

  40. Urs says:

    I am getting happier and happier as I learn more and more about Pope Francis!
    Another VERY enlightening article that shows the Pope’s view on Gay Marriage in no uncertain terms!
    Against Gay Marriage, General Bergoglio Sent the Nuns in to Fight
    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350643?eng=y

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  43. MAJ Tony says:

    The civil government talks about the first 100 days. Since the papacy is an appointment for up-to-life, I suppose that time may be a bit longer, perhaps around 3x. It’s been almost 9 months. I guess you could say “He’s due.”

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