John Allen on Pope Francis’ targeting of conservatives, traditionalists

Over at Crux (and my jury is still out… sort of… well… maybe not so much), John Allen posted something about how it seems that, under Pope Francis, conservatives and traditionalists are under fire.

Does Pope Francis have an enemies list?

In the dying days of the Nixon administration, the discovery that the White House maintained an enemies list was, for many Americans, the last straw. It seemed to reveal an administration using power not to advance policy or defend the nation, but to settle political scores.

Although any comparison between Nixon and Pope Francis is obviously an apples-and-oranges exercise, nonetheless many Catholic conservatives and traditionalists these days are asking if the pontiff has an enemies list of his own.

Recently, news has surfaced that the Vatican is either contemplating or has launched investigations of three bishops in different parts of the world:

  • Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, who has already been removed from the small Paraguayan diocese of Ciudad del Este.
  • Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, who’s currently awaiting the conclusions of an apostolic visitation that’s already taken place.
  • Mario Oliveri of the small Albenga diocese in northern Italy, where a Vatican spokesman this week said that an investigator may soon arrive.
In each case, there are specific motives for the inquests.

Livieres was accused of various forms of mismanagement as well as dividing the bishops’ conference in Paraguay, for instance by publicly accusing the Archbishop of Asunción of being gay.

Finn is the lone American bishop to be criminally convicted of failure to report an accusation of child abuse, and looms for many observers as symbol of the church’s abuse scandals.

Oliveri is the latest to join the line-up. [I don’t think he means the baseball image.] He’s accused of tolerating all kinds of misbehavior among his clergy, including priests who’ve posted nude pictures on Facebook, priests who work as bartenders at night, and, in one case, a priest currently serving jail time for molesting an 11-year-old altar girl. (The priest maintains his innocence.)

Despite the different details, many observers can’t help noticing that all three prelates have one obvious thing in common: Each is among the most conservative members of their respective bishops’ conferences.

Livieres and Finn are both members of Opus Dei, while Oliveri is known as a traditionalist deeply attached to the older Latin Mass.

In conservative Catholic circles, the investigations of these three bishops often are placed in context with other disciplinary moves by Pope Francis, such as his ongoing crackdown on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. The suspicion is that what’s really going on isn’t so much a clean-up operation as an ideological purge. [If it walks like an ideological purge and it quacks like an ideological purge…]

[…]

In June 2014, veteran Italian Catholic commentator Marco Tosatti [who is level-headed] described the crackdown as the leading edge of a wider “witch hunt” directed at conservatives, describing it as “an internal war … being waged in the name of the pope.” [By those around the Pope? I don’t doubt it.  By the Pope, too?  I have a very hard time doubting it.]

Other frequently cited uses of papal muscle against perceived foes include, for Italians, the removal of Cardinal Mauro Piacenza from the Congregation for Clergy, and, for Americans, Cardinal Raymond Burke losing his membership on the Congregation for Bishops. Burke is also expected soon to be removed from his position as head of the Vatican’s Supreme Court and assigned to a largely ceremonial role.

I spoke to one tradition-minded Catholic this week, asking if he sees all this as Francis making clear what side of the street he occupies.

“It’s not just what side he’s on,” this observer said. “It’s that he’ll steamroll right over you if you don’t move to his side.”

Conservatives say that to date, there hasn’t been a high-profile case under Francis of a bishop being called on the carpet for any of the usual doctrinal offenses – tolerating violations of the liturgical rules such as routine use of group confession, for instance, or signaling support for the ordination of women. (Last September an Australian priest was excommunicated on similar grounds, but that was a priest rather than a bishop.) [And it is pretty clear that that was already a done deal by the time Francis was elected.  Oh… btw… Reynolds is still excommunicate under the pontificate of Francis.]

In fairness, there hasn’t been a more liberal bishop accused of personal misconduct who’s been given a free pass.

Last month, for instance, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton in the United Kingdom after Conry admitted to a long-term affair with a woman in his diocese. A supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples and notoriously lukewarm about the Latin Mass, Conry is nobody’s idea of an archconservative. [Hardly a good example.  This was out in the press! Nothing else could be done.]

Nonetheless, many on the Catholic right can’t help but suspect that the recent preponderance of conservatives who’ve found themselves under the gun isn’t an accident. Some perceive a through-the-looking-glass situation, in which upholding Catholic tradition is now perceived as a greater offense than rejecting it.  [“Ideologue” is now code for “defender of the Magisterium”.  “Rigid intellectualist” is code for “believer in the Church’s doctrine”.]

How to explain these disciplinary acts?

One possibility is that Francis genuinely wants to hobble the traditionalist constituency, and is using every chance to accomplish it. If so, then Francis doesn’t owe anyone an explanation, because his moves would be having precisely the intended effect.

Another, however, is that the pontiff’s motives aren’t ideological. Instead, he knows he was elected on a reform mandate to promote good governance in the Church, and is responding to reported breakdowns as they occur without really paying attention to the politics of the people involved. [Promote good governance… should we review how well the last Synod was governed, directly under the Pontiff’s eyes?]

The speech Francis delivered at the end of the recent Synod of Bishops would seem to lean in the second direction, as he tried to signal sympathy for both the progressive and traditionalist camps. [That was the speech in which Francis, who for most of this pontificate has been “Bishop of Rome”, is suddenly referring to himself as POPE.] Francis is also a deep admirer of Pope John XXIII, the “Good Pope” of the Second Vatican Council, who famously said that “I have to be pope both for those with their foot on the gas, and those with their foot on the brake.” [Two words: Veterum sapientia.]

If that’s the case, Francis might need to find an occasion to explain in his own voice why he’s going after the people and groups that find themselves in his sights. Otherwise, the risk is that a good chunk of the Church may conclude that if the pope sees them as the enemy, there’s no good reason they shouldn’t see him the same way.

I think that was a well-measured piece.  He touched on the angles and was, in the main, fair.

You decide.  On track?  Off base?  Way waaaaay off base?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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70 Responses to John Allen on Pope Francis’ targeting of conservatives, traditionalists

  1. majuscule says:

    If you mean to say what I think you mean by this (in red, above): I have a very hard time doubting it, I am starting to feel uneasy.

    Make that uneasier…

    Um, maybe scared…

  2. John Grammaticus says:

    I’d be more inclined to Give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt if the likes of Daneels, Kasper, Nichols , Lang (my own Bishop) Wuerl and Mahoney were being subjected to the same sort of treatment.

  3. paladin says:

    I’m afraid I *don’t* think it’s off-base… and that erstwhile apologists for the Pope’s behavior in this regard (re: “lowering the boom” on orthodox figures under his authority) are going to have to tie themselves in virtual knots to keep up their efforts. It’s becoming rather plain that Pope Francis sincerely dislikes traditional-minded Catholicism (and traditional-minded Catholics, to the extent that they refuse to let go of public efforts to that effect), that he’s not at all above using his authority to enforce that view, and that he sincerely believes all views but his (rather liberal and horizontal) own view to be fundamentally misguided. I don’t think he’s trying to be petty; I think he sincerely views traditionalist Catholicism (which includes public orthodoxy) as a serious threat. I think he sincerely believes that he would be remiss in NOT reining in such people.

    The Pope is human, and he’s susceptible to the deceptions of the devil. Pray for him… HARD.

  4. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    “[T]he risk is that a good chunk of the Church may conclude that if the pope sees them as the enemy, there’s no good reason they shouldn’t see him the same way.”

    Allen is not off base. Because of the weight of the existing evidence, the burden is on those who would argue that Pope Francis is not trying to eviscerate those who merely stand for the constant teaching and practice of the Church, love the Usus Antiquior, still believe in the Great Commission, and value both charity and clarity.

    We know from history and from doctrine that the pope is not infallible in his prudential acts of governance. We know from Canon 212 that the faithful laity have the right and even the duty to make our concerns known to both the hierarchy and one another. We should understand that those who tried to manipulate the recent Synod will spend the next year working to get their kind elected as delegates to the Ordinary Synod and planning ever more cunning means of controlling information and manipulating processes. They will do their best to “make a mess!”

    So we have to start making our voices heard to our national episcopal conferences and praying to stiffen the spines of those who will be electing delegates. And pray for Cardinals Pell, Müller, Sarah, Napier, Scola, Caffarra, and Burke. N.B., Card. Burke is still in place and maintaining a high profile; he is not cowed and not playing for time, he is making the most of it. It might be that his enemies have been given pause by the united front displayed by him and his brother cardinals. Pray, pray, pray!

  5. byzantinesteve says:

    I’ve felt like that for a while — that Francis, or those around him have an axe to grind with “culture warriors.” Heck, archbishop Cupich said so himself that Francis “does not want culture warriors.”

    In fact, I’m predicting that at the next consistory, Cupich will get his red hat (sadly, it appears Cardinal George won’t be with us much longer) and that Chaput in Philadelphia will be passed over so as to send a message to the American bishops that culture warriors are not desired.

    Ultimately, I think this stems from the 2005 conclave where many bishops of the western church had to go back to their dioceses and felt under attack for electing the “arch-conservative” Benedict. I feel that many of them returned to Rome last year not wanting to stir the pot too much because it was just too tough to defend Benedict the last time. They intentionally chose someone who they believed could turn the conversation away from social issues. Little did they realize that a combination of confusing statements and lots of low-information catholics with selective hearing would actually allow social issues to continue to dominate the conversation.

    At the end of the day, i do feel that Francis, Kasper and others feel that culture warriors in the church actually prevent us from reaching those who might otherwise find comfort in the church. I think this is absolutely wrong but I do believe this is their mindset.

  6. sirlouis says:

    Directly to your question, John Allen seems to be on track. Adding my 2 cents, I perceive Francis as still stuck in Argentina, where it seems the only way they know to govern is despotically. Maybe he will grow into the job, and perhaps his at last referring to himself as pope is the first small bit of maturation. He could profit from reviewing the history of Pius IX’s early accommodation of liberal-leftist revolutionaries in the papal states.

  7. TNCath says:

    I think this article has a lot of truth to it, and I think, in time, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. This is only the beginning of further confusion ahead.

  8. bmadamsberry says:

    I think John Allen’s example of the liberal-minded Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton in the United Kingdom is fair. All the other examples have, also, been in the news, so I think you’re wrong on that end, Father.

    I honestly don’t see Pope Francis acting out some vendetta. There are a lot of other things he could do, if he wanted to, to attack traditional-minded Catholics. It’s the same argument I used against liberal-minded Catholics during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy: if Pope Benedict really *hated* liberals, if he really wanted to completely get rid of the vernacular and the Ordinary Form, *then he would have done it*!!! I think the same applies to Pope Francis. Pope Francis could get rid of *Summorum Pontificum*, but he hasn’t (thanks be to G-d).

  9. yatzer says:

    When there is a cultural war going on, we are in great need of cultural warriors.

  10. Ichabod says:

    Sticking to the facts, the 3 clergy under review by the Vatican have done highly questionable acts or omissions, creating scandal. Period. Thank God the Vatican is investigating them. If they are Traditional or Conservative, they are in name only, in sheep’s clothing. Can’t abuse the power of the Office, and in the wake of the largest crisis in the Church over the last 100 years — the priest sex abuse contagion — the Vatican must control those who govern the Church from stupid, personal, immoral conduct.

    Yes, there are things to worry about, such as whether Cardinals Pell, Burke and Muller will remain strong and influential, but these 3 clergy should be investigated.

  11. HeatherPA says:

    As St. John Eudes observed, Catholic people get the priests they deserve, in proportion to how they have (or have not) offended God. Obviously this extends to Bishops, Cardinals and the Holy Father, ultimately.
    Pray the Rosary.
    Go to Confession.
    Cling to the mast.

  12. CrimsonCatholic says:

    I don’t know, it could be. To be fair, bmadamsberry is correct in stating that all of the cases have been in the news frequently. There is also ample amounts of evidence of either sexual abuse under the leaderships of the three mentioned. Whether “conservative” or “liberal” bishops, the cover ups must be stopped. When will our bishops learn?

  13. Imrahil says:

    Good points. Very good points.

    Also thanks for the comment dear byzantinesteve.

    For the record, my problem with priests working as bartenders is exactly the same problem as that with priests working in any other reputable but decidedly secular profession. (“decidedly”: Being teacher, artist, scientist, author and so forth may somewhat be said secular to, but I don’t mean them.)

  14. MikeJDP says:

    If anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it is certainly the Pope.

    When I find myself disagreeing with the Pope, the first and most appropriate reaction is to examine myself and the situation. Simply, there is a way to be aligned with the Holy Father and to stand for reverent, Catholic liturgy.

    The peripheries need us to reach out to them… with the TRUTH.

  15. Elodie says:

    “Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard..”

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear Ichabod,

    maybe. But we all make mistakes. (If I recall that correctly, the explanations given by e. g. Bishop Finn for his doings were rather personally convincing, and proving that he did not act as he did because he is a bad guy. Which would imply that after due punishment he should not be considered an unperson.)

    Anyway, given that we do all make mistakes, it’s a pretty good strategy against a party to “look closely” at things that can be brought against them. And, alas, although they are saying (and principally rightly, but there’s no room for a detailed discussion here) “there is no right to equality in treatment of injustice”… a group can hardly be said to be fairly treated if they are scrutinized for what are admittedly their real wrongdoings, while the other is not so scrutinized.

    In fairness to the Holy Father, of course the media, who brought the news in question, also have an agenda against the mentioned party of Catholics.

  17. tcreek says:

    When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, the “anybody but Ratzinger” progressive wing voted for Cardinal Berg0glio. Now the anti Ratzinger, anti tradition crowd have their man.
    Seems so to me. Lets not lay the blame on the Holy Spirit.

  18. CradleRevert says:

    Perhaps I’m naive, but I’m still trying to cling to the hope that much of this is being done by the Holy Father at the sly promptings of bad influences surrounding him, and not so much by his own self-motivated volition. Remember, he did come to the Vatican as a bit of an outsider who wasn’t familiar with the politics and inner-workings of the Holy See. I can’t help but think that he is, at least in part, being manipulated by malevolent advisers.

  19. disco says:

    It sometimes feels like Pope Francis is torching the barque of Peter for the insurance money and anyone caught trying to put the fire out is thrown overboard.

  20. marcelus says:

    My humble belief: traditionalists are doing the worst thing they can do: Getting paranoid!they are putting themselves under the gun and it’s contagious do we may need to drop the ghost seach.

    bad bad bad:

    *Livieres was accused of various forms of mismanagement as well as dividing the bishops’ conference in Paraguay, for instance by publicly accusing the Archbishop of Asunción of being gay.
    *Finn is the lone American bishop to be criminally convicted of failure to report an accusation of child abuse, and looms for many observers as symbol of the church’s abuse scandals.

    *Oliveri is the latest to join the line-up. [I don’t think he means the baseball image.] He’s accused of tolerating all kinds of misbehavior among his clergy, including priests who’ve posted nude pictures on Facebook, priests who work as bartenders at night, and, in one case, a priest currently serving jail time for molesting an 11-year-old altar girl.

    Please,… now we will put the Trad coat on these men and suddenly their are the most pious of Bishops and their described awfull sins just vanished?

    A criminal defense lawyer would have doubts when these men presented themselves as clients.

    You can do better.

    PS. What would happen , if all of the sudden, PF appointed a Trad bishop, as he has in the past, to a high position next? what would we have to come up with then? Oh he is doing this, so we don’t see that and this get done in the back???

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/11183773/Pope-Francis-to-investigate-playboy-priests-who-posed-naked-online-in-scandal-hit-disocese.html

    I did not know about this priest. Shame. Best thing trads can do is stay away from them and not use them as examples. his will get us nowhere.

    “on Olivieri: The bishop himself is not accused of any wrongdoing, but is reported to have been overly-charitable in recruiting “black sheep” priests with distinctly chequered pasts, including trainee priests expelled from seminaries for misconduct.
    They include a priest who was found guilty of organising an under-age prostitution ring and others who posted nude photos of themselves on Facebook and gay websites.
    Priests in the diocese have been accused of sexually harassing parishioners, living with gay partners and stealing Communion money.
    Father Luciano Massaferro, for instance, a parish priest, was sentenced to nearly eight years in prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing an altar boy. He had been strenuously defended by the bishop.”

    I would not come near Albenga.

  21. MikeJDP says:

    Disco – Your remark is highly inappropriate and disrespectful.

  22. marcelus says:

    Ichabod says:
    4 November 2014 at 1:18 pm
    Sticking to the facts, the 3 clergy under review by the Vatican have done highly questionable acts or omissions, creating scandal. Period. Thank God the Vatican is investigating them. If they are Traditional or Conservative, they are in name only, in sheep’s clothing. Can’t abuse the power of the Office, and in the wake of the largest crisis in the Church over the last 100 years — the priest sex abuse contagion — the Vatican must control those who govern the Church from stupid, personal, immoral conduct.

    Yes, there are things to worry about, such as whether Cardinals Pell, Burke and Muller will remain strong and influential, but these 3 clergy should be investigated.

    Sir , you see things clearly. thank you

  23. disco says:

    I know. I apologize for that. I also know that’s not what’s happening but it’s very frustrating to see orthodoxy punished.

  24. marcelus says:

    Put in a different manner, defending some of these men on the grounds that they are traditionals, is an offense to men such as Burke or Pell.

  25. MikeJDP says:

    It is tough to stay positive… dark night…

  26. Joseph-Mary says:

    Well, I have read opinions on both sides of the pope issue….the staunch defenders that claim it is all in mistranslations, etc.
    But what I cannot get past is the men he surrounds himself with and the ones he is choosing for high places. The pope is no dummy; he knows what he is doing and the direction he wants. But the most faithful of Catholics do not want to be Episcopalians! And they are not ultramontanists thinking every word from the Bishop of Rome is infallible. There is conflict and confusion instead of clarity, true mercy, and justice. I see that those who have not followed the modern Jesuit profile, shall we say, are being demoted, exiled, etc. I mean these are just facts and one can draw a conclusion from the actions.

  27. iteadthomam says:

    Very good article. Though the Pope doesn’t owe us an explanation since he is the Pope, it sure would help clear alot of confusion that is going around these days.

  28. Gerard Plourde says:

    Like bmadamsberry I have to note that Livieres Plano, Finn and Oliveri are under investigation for alleged misdeeds that Pope Benedict would have censured and moved against.

    Let’s continue to pray for the Pope and the entire Church in this troubled time.

  29. marcelus says:

    “Otherwise, the risk is that a good chunk of the Church may conclude that if the pope sees them as the enemy, there’s no good reason they shouldn’t see him the same way.”

    Problem is the potential tense used :

    A “chunck”of the Church has seen PF as the enemy since the night of 3/13/13.
    No coulds here.

  30. oldcanon2257 says:

    Food for thought: Yezhovshchina (E???????)

    Quotes to ponder:

    There will be some innocent victims in this fight against Fascist agents. We are launching a major attack on the Enemy; let there be no resentment if we bump someone with an elbow. Better that ten innocent people should suffer than one spy get away. When you chop wood, chips fly.
    -Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) of the Soviet Union under Stalin

    vs.

    Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake.-Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5:11

    If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.-Our Lord Jesus Christ, in John 15:18-20

  31. Pingback: Is Pope Francis Purging Vatican of Traditinl Bshps? - Big Pulpit

  32. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    So the pope and Kasper et al. don’t want a culture war. They want to reach to the peripheries, they want to make the message soft and flexible so as to attract those who have strayed. Isn’t that what has been going on for 50 years? How’s that workin’ for ya? It is ludicrous that any intelligent person truly devoted to the good of the Church and aware of her history could think that mush and grins are the answer. Was that the strategy of the Counter-Reformation?

    No, we are facing the modernists who have been burrowing away since the mid-19th century. As religion is only a mental construct not connected to reality, they can make it anything they please. This is the antithesis of Catholicism. But because Catholicism stands as the greatest obstacle to their triumph, the Church must be destroyed. They have attacked from within and have reached the highest levels. Some are committed and others are useful idiots who buy the line. The strategy is to destroy catechesis and dilute liturgical and devotional life and moral practices, thus inevitably undermining faith and doctrine. Resisting them will take vigilance, prayer, and fasting, just as our Lord said.

  33. Supertradmum says:

    I do not consider John Allen a fair journalist. He is too much into sensationalism.

    I have been wondering about the over-preoccupation in the press with all these things. I can imagine what Rome would have looked like to us if there had been world-wide media in the days of Pope John XII. One shudders.

    Having said that, this pope has his own ideas and those of us who are seriously orthodox are watching closely. However, there is way too many conspiracy theories and many good Catholics have flipped over into the sede camp, which is horribly dangerous to their souls.

    As to the three good , conservative bishops, well perhaps they made mistakes but what of the number of bad bishops, especially in Latin America, like Valentini of Jales, Brazil diocese, who went to the Masonic fete? There does seem to be a double standard.

    Prayers for the Pope. At least he is referring to himself a pope now, which is a step in the right direction.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    oopsie, is should be are….sigh; ill tonight so bear with me.

  35. Traductora says:

    If John Allen has gone far enough to say this, it means that we’re in big trouble. I have never liked him particularly because he has always deceptively presented his take – a basically liberal take – as being objective and “fair,” I guess mostly because he didn’t engage in personal attacks. So if John Allen is acknowledging that there’s a problem or even a perceived problem with Pope Francis’ Medici-school management, this is definitely worth noticing.

    As for the three clergy, I don’t know a thing about Olivere, except that it’s difficult to imagine that anyone who was that flamboyantly out of control could have escaped notice until now. The other two are basically cases of people who may have supported the wrong people, in both cases without knowing much about them, and in fact are actually paying for the tolerance of people who occupied their sees before them. In the case of Livieres, it’s very possible that the priest in question was guilty but repented and was accepted back to do administrative work; or maybe that he wasn’t even guilty.

    But at the same time that he attacks these people, this Pope is letting the formerly marginalized Cdl Danneels, a famous accessory after the fact to all sorts of verified abuse, including that involving his own family members, and a person who also managed to destroy the once-great Church in Belgium, be one of his spokesmen and golden boys, so I don’t really think the Pope is concerned all that much about ethics. All of the evil people who should have been removed by the timid JPII or by BXVI (who actually did remove a couple of them, such as Fr. Maciel) are suddenly swanning about in public and getting payback against their enemies, the dread “conservatives.”

    This is like going back into the Middle Ages and the bizarre papal behavior of those times.

  36. Peregrinator says:

    I think John Allen’s example of the liberal-minded Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton in the United Kingdom is fair.

    Really? His Excellency resigned before the Holy See even had a change to look into the charges against him. Was he already under investigation? If so, I don’t think it was made public.

  37. Unwilling says:

    atra legenda rubra putanda

  38. Papabile says:

    The similarities between the wording of the letters of two Bishops on the other side of the world tell one everything about how some people are manipulating this from Rome.

    Note: One was an official Notification to Pastors, one a Canonical Decree.

    Examples

    +Semeraro Letter
    “Therefore, any Catholic faithful who requests and receives Sacraments in the Society of Saint Pius X, will place himself de facto in the condition of no longer being in communion with the Catholic Church. A readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation, according to the ecclesiastical discipline established by the Bishop.

    +Sarlinga Letter
    “In the case of the rupture of ecclesiastical communion by the above-mentioned founded motives, in order to be later readmitted to the Catholic Church, a personal path of reconciliation (and eventually of removal of the canonical censure) will be required, according to the discipline advised by the Holy See and the [diocese’s] own, established by the diocesan bishop.

    There is absolutely no doubt that this wording comes from Rome.

    Now the question is, how involved is the Holy Father.

  39. Lizzy says:

    MikeJDP, it is indeed. I teach religious education at at Catholic school in the UK and my department just spent an hour discussing how we can best convey to the children that we and Pope Francis are disappointed that the synod didn’t change Church teaching, and that it’s inevitable and just a matter of time before the Church allows gay marriage, female priests, etc. I was specifically told by someone high up that there is no theological reason not to have female priests. Obviously, I won’t teach anything that contradicts Church teaching, and I may well get into a lot of trouble because of it.

    The thing is, I’ve been worried about what’s been happening since the beginning of this pontificate and I am starting to lose hope. I know despair is a mortal sin and I’ve been trying to fight against it for months, but when I see what’s going on in, I just think ‘this isn’t the Church I went through a lot of personal difficulties to join.’ I was brought up Anglican – I know what it’s like to be in a church that changes its teaching each time a new opinion poll comes out. I’m really trying to keep up hope but I’m genuinely facing the possibility that the Church isn’t what I thought it was and perhaps I was wrong to join it. The Rod Dreher approach is looking appealing at this point. I don’t know what to do.

  40. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Pope Francis carrying on a “purge?” Por favor. Oh please. This accusation could only come from people who are ignorant of the Hispanic or Latino mindset when it comes to using power against one’s enemies. Put another way–when a Hispanic in a position of absolute power wants to carry out a purge, you will know a purge is going on. Think Franco in Spain, Evita Perón in Argentina, or Castro and Che Guevara in Cuba. If the Holy Father had traditional Catholics in his cross hairs, they would not be whining and whimpering, but wailing and gnashing their teeth because he would give them some serious pain and affliction to cry about.

  41. Fr_Sotelo says:

    In my opinion, what is going on with Pope Francis is, thank God, a desire to address incompetence and stupidity, such as hiring a sexual predator as your vicar general (Livieres), giving the impression that you don’t enforce safe environment for children (Finn) or allowing the priests in your diocese to operate like the Playboy mansion (Oliveri). And let’s remember the inconvenient truth that the internal fights within the Franciscans of the Immaculate caused Benedict XVI (not Francis) to initiate the visits and investigation into that order. Even in the SSPX, loving Tradition and the EF Mass are not enough to immunize you from being kicked out if you are 1) stupid and causing embarrassment to the Society or 2) using the Roman collar and traditional externals as a cover-up for sexual misconduct.

  42. MikeJDP says:

    Rod Dreher did not find a solution… he succumbed to heresy.

  43. paladin says:

    Hi, Fr. Sotelo,

    That’s an interesting take… but wouldn’t it suppose that one could “define” Pope Francis entirely (or sufficiently) in terms of “Hispanic mindset”? I would think it possible that Pope Francis might be motivated by his own personal spirituality (which can vary wildly between individual Hispanics–compare His Holiness to St. Josemaria Escriva, for example), or by his Jesuit upbringing/training/formation, or (more likely) by some unknown “blend” of multiple factors. It would also be an acknowledgement of Pope Francis’ intelligence to assume that he’d be aware of the idea that bald-faced “brutal, Che Guevara-esque assaults” on opponents wouldn’t play well on the world stage, even with those who sympathize with his views, and that he’d be a bit more indirect and quiet about things. That, and I’ll give Pope Francis the assumption that he’s genuinely trying to do good, rather than stage a selfish “coup” (though I personally think he’s showing strong signs of being misguided).

    Frankly, I would find him absolutely inexplicable, otherwise. Why else remove Cardinal Burke, who has obviously acquitted himself admirably as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and on the Congregation for Bishops, from both positions in lieu of a symbolic position with minimal official influence? Why allow Cardinal Kasper and co. to preach blatant heresy (sometimes with racism thrown in), while allowing his compliment of Cardonal Kasper’s views (“profound, serene theology done on his knees”) to remain unchallenged and unedited by any further comments to the contrary? Disagreement with the views and actions of Cardinal Burke, and sympathy/agreement with the views and actions of Cardinal Kasper, are the only reasonable explanations which fit the facts, IMHO. I’d love to be proven wrong… but the evidence in that quarter is scarce.

  44. Kathleen10 says:

    Is this an “ideological purge”? Seems like it, yes.
    Is Pope Francis concentrating on “good governance” because he was elected with that mandate? I’d have to say it depends on your definition of good governance. If that includes, as it does for Pope Francis, a big mess, then yes, good governance.
    He mentions the “Synod speech” and how it “showed sympathy to both sides”. He, in effect, said nothing that would clarify or console. In fact I found it disturbing.
    His last sentence in the article, about the perception of enemies, is his best point. If anything goes our way (traditionalists) I’ll happily reconsider that.
    What startles me is not that this is happening, but that there is no subtlety, no delicacy at all. We should check poor Cardinal Burke’s neck for boot prints.
    And the Synod members gave Pope Francis a four minute standing ovation for presiding over that mess. Was that capitulation, or fear. They would seem to have good reason to fear from all evidence thus far.

  45. RichardT says:

    I went along with giving Francis the benefit of the doubt, accepting that it wasn’t political or an attack on tradition, until Danneels was appointed to the Synod.

  46. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Hello Paladin:

    I believe that Pope Francis is, in a sense, inexplicable. And I believe it unwise for Catholics to find explanations for his character or motives in theories such as this–that he is a liberal Pope on a mission to purge traditional leaders and empower others whose orthodoxy is dubious at best. When you work with bishops and see the Church’s clergy over some decades, as I have, there can be a million reasons why they do what they do, or omit to do what they should do.

    Part of the equation is that without having direct and constant access to the Holy Father, we rely on talk, gossip, second-hand reporting, and the snippets that are fed to us through media and internet. Further, I realize that calling Pope Francis–a man born, formed, and immersed in a Hispanic ethos and culture, a typical Hispanic is somewhat stereotypical. But I am Hispanic and I do not find him radically different from the profile of Hispanic priest that I am used to working with. And with that profile comes a certain way of “purging people” when you attain to positions of great power. Along that vein, I simply do not see Francis’ actions as a purge. I just don’t. If he were going after certain men whose record of diocesan administration was less problematic, I could see a case for a purge. But the men who are in trouble have publicly become embroiled in sexual morality controversies, and that alone, in the pre-Vatican II era, would have provoked the ire of a St. Pius X, or a Pius XI or Pius XII.

  47. Son of Trypho says:

    I still have my suspicions that the extreme liberal bishops have put an ultimatum down – if the Pope doesn’t accommodate their interests they’ll split like the SSPX and possibly take entire countries with them eg. Germany.

    This is why there is a slowly growing move against the SSPX – they can never be reconciled because they would provide a powerful influence within the Church in opposition to these types/perspectives who despite suggesting otherwise, don’t want an open dialogue. All the other traditionalists/conservatives are controllable and thus largely ghettoised because they don’t have their own bishops and can’t survive without them.

    The real crunch will come when the SSPX create another bishop – they are down to 3 and they are starting to get older (56, 57 and 69) so this is inevitable and will generate the real crisis.

  48. Per Signum Crucis says:

    Off base until the good governance option at the end. As others have said, don’t be fooled by the smokescreen of the three bishops who are, rightly, being investigated.

    As for Francus vs. the Cardinals? The cardinals probably had a fairly good idea of what to expect when they voted for him or saw what way the smoke was blowing in the conclave. Francis the unsophisticated South American hard man? Way too cliched. Francis the enigma? Well, the stark contrast of his first appearance on the balcony – this unsmiling, almost robotic man – compared with Benedict’s joy may have created a perception that still runs deep. Out of faith, charity and simple obedience, we should cut him some slack in what is still a young pontificate.

  49. Allan S. says:

    A very wise person once told me “When people show you who they are – believe them.” Leaving aside what to me at least is obvious (there is a deliberate, sustained purge of truth and tradition – a sell-out to the world), here are some concrete actions the faithful can take to protect tradition and truth:

    The Church is funded by the laity. When you support traditional priests or liturgy at the Parish level, do NOT make large, “no strings attached” contributions. Instead of giving cash or items (vestments, liturgical books etc.) loan them. Iron “Property of J. Smith/Una Voce” tags into clothes, put Ex Libris plates in books and have the Parish or priest sign a receipt acknowledging a long-term “loan” of the items. Want a priest to attend a seminar or TLM training? Pay for his attendance directly, and have him register for free (circumventing “budget controls” used to block attendance).

    When a new heretic priest or bishop comes along and tries to mothball these treasures, and otherwise undo your work, assert your property rights and take possession – keeping items safe or putting them into play elsewhere. They cannot be sold off or destroyed. Instead of cash donations, buy the items you wanted to fund (e.g. traditional missals for the pews, musical materials) through the local TLM community which should organize and get a bank account. Then LOAN them, written agreement and all, to the Parish. I understand this is what happened to a degree with the FFI, and the ‘Commisar’ overseeing their kneecapping hit the spin cycle when he was out-manoeurvered this way.

    Faithful Catholics are Catholics because the Church is the repository of truth and justice. When those things are subverted, walk away from that community – and take your stuff with you. Clerics have taken a vow of obedience – we have not. Use that.

    The enemy is inside our lines – let us be prudent.

  50. Uxixu says:

    I agree with the sentiment of Son of Trypho especially WRT SSPX and it’s obviously no accident the FSSP doesn’t have their own bishop. More than that, when I consider how oddball the Thuc ‘line’ looks, added to that of Campos, barring a formal reconciliation, it’s probably inevitable that Bp. Fellay at some point decides to consecrate his own bishops who will incur excommunication again, which may or may not be lifted at some point in the future. Given the scope of their worldwide operation and the expulsion of Bp. Williamson, they will definitely want more than one. Some arrangement as was talked about WRT Abp. Lefebvre could perhaps be a solution whereby a list of candidates is submitted by the Fraternity and the Holy Father picks one or two…

    I disagree that any group of bishops could take any whole national body of with them into schism, though as even in Germany is not unified (even if the Cardinal Kaspers perhaps outnumber the Cardinal Mullers). That would just be a redux of the Old Catholics who would quickly crumble in what portion of the laity they would manage to claim, though I’d be skeptical of any sizable portion of laity following these hypothetical bishops into schism, though lapsed and the secular-left media would propagandize it with glee.

  51. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    @Lizzy: You became a Catholic because you found the true Church of Jesus Christ. You were not mistaken. You don’t know what to do or where else to go because there is no other good choice. When Jesus promised to give His Body and Blood for our food and drink, many disciples found this too much and He asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6. Notice that Jesus did not offer to modify His teaching in order to attract those who would not accept it.
    There has always been strife and trouble. Look at the Protestant revolt and the Anglican disaster. The Church struggles through, finds her Lord and is revivified. Hold fast to your Faith and do not be disturbed because, once again, those who should know better are, for whatever reasons, causing confusion or even misleading the flock. Let us all pray for one another.
    On a lighter note, I will offer a song written by my sister for the next time Fr. Z holds court in a pub; I think it is well-suited to antiphonal singing:
    Song of the Laity
    Refrain: Oh, cling to the Barque of Peter,
    Whether you’re drunk or sober.
    Sinners and Saints together,
    Stay clinging to the rails.

    Have no fear in wintry gales,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail,
    Stay clinging to the rails.
    Refrain
    When seven zephyrs fill her sails,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail,
    Stay clinging to the rails.
    Refrain
    When she faces her travails,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail,
    Stay clinging to the rails.
    Refrain
    Keep the Faith when all else fails,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail,
    Stay clinging to the rails.
    Refrain
    When modern Masses make you quail,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    When sermons go beyond the pale,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    When the convent’s up for sale,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    When your bishop’s sent to jail,
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail,
    Stay clinging to the rails.
    Refrain
    The gates of hell shall not prevail;
    Cling to the barque hold on to the rails.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail;
    (Retard) Stay clinging to the rails.

  52. Jackie L says:

    Yet tradition in the US continues to grow, and attract seminarians. The liberals are energized, but are very old, and have failed to attract virtually anyone young to their cause, the liberals know the clock is ticking and will continue to attack.

  53. Grumpy Beggar says:

    John Allen on Pope Francis’ targeting of conservatives, traditionalists
    Posted on 4 November 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    Over at Crux (and my jury is still out… sort of… well… maybe not so much), John Allen posted something about how it seems that, under Pope Francis, conservatives and traditionalists are under fire.

    Kind of sounds a little like a hung jury. . . and one problem with purges is that ultimately some individuals do end up getting hung , well, hung out to dry at least.

    One fair journalist (tip of the hat to John Allen) does not a safe website make , yet it only takes one tainted journalist – just one article actually , using a pen filled with Grade “A” dissenter’s venom to initiate a campaign against the Holy Catholic Church . . .Yes, one Margery Eagan is still there and she hasn’t really showed signs of slowing any. Neither has anyone ever taken her to task since a particular article she wrote was referred to here as a topic. . . “Roman Catholicism could be more cruel than merciful, no matter what the gospel [read: ‘No matter what Jesus directly’] says.” Need we say more ? (Why not ? Maybe we can work a smile out of it).

    Of course, she has the perfect objective perspective – as she explains :

    “I am a Catholic like so many others who has separated my faith and prayer life from the politics of a morally challenged Church hierarchy.”

    I don’t think there is any question that she is definitely an expert on being morally challenged.

    In a subsequent article entitled ” My Prayer: That Francis Prevails Over the Bigots in the Church”, she went on to eructate copiously . The article almost appeared giddy at the prospect of Pope Francis demoting Cardinal Burke.

    But the latest article from the same pen on October 30th is a real piece of work. It’s entitled , “Why can we disregard St. Paul’s words on slavery, but not homosexuality.”

    It’s pretty clear that she’s saying to disregard what Jesus says and what St. Paul says and that she knows better than the Church. But who is the real bigot here ? In couched language, by equating slavery with homosexuality, and then linking the slavery to pre-Civil War US , she also puts a racial spin on it – without ever having the strength of conviction to stand behind that suggestion – an analogy night be: someone who prepares a slide show or a video and then wipes their fingerprints off the camera once they’ve pushed the “play” button. It’s a shady and shoddy genre of journalism .
    She has her own little gay pride parade going 24-7 at that site. So I’m not providing any links, but if you click on the “Crux” link in Fr. Z’s OP , it will take you to the site and it’s all there , should one feel the need to substantiate anything.

    I would however, like to provide my fellow readers with two links to articles which make it very clear just what a base insult, just what a slap in the face it is to our Afro-American brothers and sisters, to equate their plight, and Jim Crow, to homosexual activism.

    http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=13855

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/07/jackson.same.sex.marriage/index.html

    It’s a good thing I’m not pope of CRUX at the moment- because if I were, I’d no doubt be conducting my own little idealogical purge campaign .
    : )

  54. Matt Robare says:

    I guess the thing is that the Holy Spirit guarantees that the Church will not fall into error. We have some 2000 years of evidence for that. What is clear is that the Church has been under a prolonged assault — whether it’s the materialism of the West or radical Islam from the East — decades, if not centuries in the making.

    John Paul the Great, who made Ratzinger, Kasper and Bergolio all cardinals, I think understood the importance of unity. Schism would be a great victory for the Enemy: divide et impera. I love the EF, but when we look at and mock the abuses and irreverancies liberals have made to the Mass of Paul VI we have to ask ourselves if they make the Mass invalid. We may dislike it on an aesthetic level or feel that it’s irreverant, but we can’t let our egos or our pride destroy our unity.

    I don’t know what Francis is doing, but I think it’s interesting to look at the “culture warriors” mentioned and also one name that hasn’t been mentioned: Sean Cardinal O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston. O’Malley is, by many reports, a favorite of Francis and has received his fair share of criticism from the Rorate Ceali crowd for the funeral of Ted Kennedy and refusing to be dragged into the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade controversy. He rarely makes big public pronouncements on politics, although he’s been known to lobby behind the scenes.

    And the EF flourishes in Boston. Every Sunday Mass is celebrated in the EF in his cathedral and several parishes have it at least once a month, if not once a week. I would dare to say that the Faith flourishes, considering how many people I’ve seen at some vigil masses and the fact there are 25 people in my RCIA class.

    If St Lawrence could stand to be burnt by a gridiron, I think we can stand an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

    Am I sometimes distressed at what I see Francis apparently doing? Yes. But do I see just enough to give me hope that he’s playing a long game? Also yes.

  55. stephen c says:

    Nothing I have heard or read makes me think that Pope Francis – who has been nice and generous to many people and who has sacrificed a lot more in this life than I have – believes that, decades from now, after he (and myself, by the way) is long gone from this specific world, there should not be – or will not be – an enthusiastic and joyful multitude of “traditional” Catholics in the world. (Peripheries, respect for older generations, love for the saints and their liturgies, continued support for Summorum Pontificum – Pope Francis can’t be criticized on those points, with the exception of the complicated issue of his attitude towards one specific half-Novus Ordo half-traditional Franciscan order). Something he knows a lot about, and something I do not know a lot about, is the question of the beliefs of the next generation of pastors of the Church. If he knows (as I believe) that many – even multitudes – of the next generation, no matter what he does, will be faithful and passionate and worthy followers of the best pastors of the past – then his obvious distrust (to use the mildest word I can think of) of traditionalists is possibly just a tactic to shake them up, to make them better. He knows that if they are right they will overcome. And perhaps he thinks that he is the last best chance for those who want to be what people like Paul VI and Cardinal Bugnini and even poor Karl Rahner would have been if they were saints (or more saintly than they were ). Matt Robare – the criticism of Boston’s new bishop’s embarrassingly enthusiastic presence at the funeral of a publicly unrepentant sinner was not limited to any particular crowd – I like to think that all decent Christian people were sorrowed at the new bishop’s sad inability to reject the charms of the rich and powerful, and I hope that the now not-so-new bishop has repented, repented not so much of having been a cheerful presence at a funeral for a publicly sinful and unrepentant Catholic, one who had nothing but cold ice in his heart where love for our unborn sisters and brothers should have been, but repented of his choice to spend his time that day at that particular rich man’s funeral, and not at one of the dozens of funerals in his diocese of publicly faithful but poor and unpowerful Catholics. All of whom he ignored for a public supporter of abortion. I would not ask him to publicly repent – he is a bishop, after all, who has led a mostly admirable life, and I don’t wish any embarrassment for him, and as a sinner myself, I am against public repentance on general principles – but I side more with the victims of abortion that I do with him, and I pray that he privately repents.

  56. marcelus says:

    Son of Trypho says:
    4 November 2014 at 4:59 pm
    I still have my suspicions that the extreme liberal bishops have put an ultimatum down – if the Pope doesn’t accommodate their interests they’ll split like the SSPX and possibly take entire countries with them eg. Germany.

    This is why there is a slowly growing move against the SSPX – they can never be reconciled because they would provide a powerful influence within the Church in opposition to these types/perspectives who despite suggesting otherwise, don’t want an open dialogue. All the other traditionalists/conservatives are controllable and thus largely ghettoised because they don’t have their own bishops and can’t survive without them.

    I have exactly the oppositen view. I think the libs are playing their hand in a masterly manner. Most of us fail to see this.

    Take a look at this very same piece by Allen!! what does it achieve?

    To get us all , in the end, more or less suspicious of the Pope or directly angry at him,.

    it’s like throwing a bone to a dog and we go at it like crazy! Ohh this Che Guevara ( who would have thought somebody would bring him up in a catholic blog? loved it), this hispanic (not much of that in us really) This Peron!! and on we go..

    Now, Im in Argentina and really not familiarf with this man Allen so I take it he is a liberal or close?

    And he goes: Hey trads, look what the popeis doing to you, see see?? now go them boy, and on we go.

    The Pope has a clear position on family, SSM, abortion, Hell & the devil- He does not mention that everyday and all in the same talk, but at different times and homilies.

    Off topic: We may see PF very active in Nov since the Vatican is hosting a Interreligious conference on marriage between man and woman.

    http://catholicleader.com.au/news/pope-francis-to-open-vatican-conference-on-traditional-marriage

    And we may also see him pull some rank in Argentina since in the same month, Congress will debate a bill pushed by the left that will make abortion free, for all ages and totally legal.

    As of today , abortion is legal here if it is the result of rape or mother’s life being compromised.

    Lots of doctors have refused to perform them, however, based religious & ethical grounds .

  57. Cantor says:

    The elimination of these three Bishops for incompetence, stupidity, and/or downright hubris would be perfectly legitimate. Although they may have good skill sets and be very competent liturgists, scholars and recruiters, it takes more than that to shepherd a diocese. Of itself, this action from Rome does not constitute any sort of “conservative massacre”.

    If, on the other hand, you can identify liberal bishops who have similarly disregarded the safety and well-being of children within their dioceses, or stood back as their priests engaged in public nudity and the like, then please do identify them. If the Pope refuses to act in those cases. then we have a problem.

  58. Steve Skojec says:

    Let’s not forget the unqualified reinstatement of Fr. Sean Fagan, censured (and almost laicized!) by the CDF under Pope Benedict for his books trashing Catholic sexual ethics and promoting all kinds of sexual sins.

    Combine that with Pope Francis’s very public outings with clergy noted in Italy for being homosexual rights activists, and we do see, at least in part, the flip side of this coin.

  59. Bea says:

    Frighteningly, too true.
    What frightens me more is that like-minded bishops will take the cue and do their own persecutions.

  60. put Ex Libris plates in books and have the Parish or priest sign a receipt acknowledging a long-term “loan” of the items.

    Allan S, what are these plates? How do you do this? & where do you get such plates?

  61. majuscule says:

    Julian Barkin–

    Book plates–they show who owns the book for when one might loan their book to someone for their reading pleasure. The idea is to get it back to the owner.

    I know nothing about this place, it was just a link I found to show as an example:

    http://www.thelibrarystore.com/product/ad86-1490/bookplates?r=pla&gclid=CjwKEAiAj-KiBRC48YzhnLSg0D0SJAClOhK3C3WgF-0MSQFUoxv50DpfswwTHN3Qb5OUEqEtqbIo_RoCWUDw_wcB

    Do not do a Google search for images of examples of “ex libris”.

    You have been warned.

  62. “Another, however, is that the pontiff’s motives aren’t ideological. Instead, he knows he was elected on a reform mandate to promote good governance in the Church, and is responding to reported breakdowns as they occur without really paying attention to the politics of the people involved.”

    This definitely strains credulity.

  63. Allan S. says:

    JC – yes, it does “strain credulity.” I suppose there is some redeeming value in that so many good people twist themselves into pretzels and do cognitive backflips to avoid drawing the most obvious conclusion on the facts. I prefer to accept the reality, which simply becomes more compelling each day. Again, when people show you who they are – believe them. I believe Francis is exactly who he shows us to be.

    Remember when people could respond rhetorically to obviously true questions with “Is the Pope Catholic?” I liked those days. Now I just go with the “bear” thing, lest I get pregnant pauses instead of a chuckle.

  64. Sonshine135 says:

    Oops. Sounds like we are no longer “Reading Francis through Benedict”.
    Since we are on the subject, I thought Pope Francis stated that he was going to have Pope Emeritus Benedict involved more in the day to day affairs of the church. It doesn’t appear, at least on the surface, that this is happening. I believe Pope Francis would be more successful if he did this. I do not object to the moves that the Pope is making with Liveries, Finn, and Olivieri, but I agree that there are several destructive elements on the other side of the coin that should be addressed as well.

  65. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    The only place Bishop Finn ‘looms for many observers as symbol of the church’s abuse scandals’ is in the minds of Fishwrap readers. You can take the writer out of the Fishwrap but not the Fishwrap out of the writer.

  66. little women says:

    I’ve been contemplating recently the fact that Christ’s Chosen People (not only that, but thepriests!) were responsible for paying the traitor and fomenting the crowds against Christ, which ultimately led to his suffering and death. If Christ allowed Himself to thus be tortured and killed at the hands of those who should have been His primary supporters, His protectors, if you will, then it seems to me that we should expect the same.

  67. St Donatus says:

    At this point I think the Church is like the Costa Concordia ship where the Captain first runs the ship into the dangerous rocks to please the passengers with a even better view of the coast. The passengers were all delighted with the enjoyable trip but in making the passengers happy, the Captain caused terrible damage to the ship.

    Likewise, most Catholics love new innovations in the Church, especially when it makes their lives easier. For example, moving to the Novus Ordo Mass meant that the Mass was easier and shorter. Easier because it was easier to just sit back and day dream because you didn’t have to use a missal to follow and understand the Mass (at least that is what I used to do at the Novus Ordo mass). Shorter because so many of the prayers in the Tridentine Mass were removed.

    Removal of many of the fasting requirements of course meant life was easier. A de-emphasis on Confession made life easier because you didn’t have to examine your conscience as much and you were not being continually reminded to improve your Catholic life. Of course there are thousands of other examples of this but you get the point.

    All of these things make our life as Catholics easier but as with someone who eats junk food all the time, our spiritual health is slowly being destroyed. (Again, I know four of my five siblings left the Church (plus myself) and all because of poor training in the faith and no sense of the sacred (sense of God’s presence) in Mass. All the signs of God were gone. People no longer showed deep reverence and awe at the sacristy, tabernacle, or anywhere in the Church. People talk loudly, don’t even seem to notice God’s presence. We are worried about ‘community’ and God is left out. We shake hands with our neighbor but don’t acknowledge God by genuflecting, we don’t dress up as we would if we really believed God was there.

    Yes, definitely a sinking ship but thankfully there are those selfless Catholics like Father Z who are trying their best to repair the damage before most everyone drowns.

  68. q7swallows says:

    I think it was Fulton Sheen who said that whatever the Church drops, the world tends to pick up.

    So I propose that since the Catholic laity is “in the world” (but not of the world), it’s the privilege of that laity to pick up the crumbs from the table of any culture — even that of the Church.

    If they toss good traditions aside, I am free to bring them to life in myself and my home.

    If they cast off reverence for God, I am always at liberty to let it live and breathe and be expressed in me. My aspect, my demeanor is the pulpit from which the love of God is preached.

    If they throw the beauty befitting the altar aside, I am free to adorn the prayer place in my room and in my home with all the art and pomp that I would choose for God in a church but is not welcome there.

    I am even free to build, adorn, and outfit a TLM-friendly cupboard into my living space to accommodate the occasional Trad priest visitor–whether he ever comes or not.

    If traditional worship is thrown aside, I can add to my fast food religious diet by praying from my missal and my devotions once the noisy hordes have trooped out.

    I am also quite free to use traditional postures before, during, and after Mass. Any Mass.

    I am likewise free to approach my Lord in Holy Communion to receive Him on my knees — even if only on the stone floor. If I fall while getting up, oh well! Let it be the practical case for altar rails. Jesus fell on His Knees for me . . . .

    I am free to visit Him in Church during the center of my day if I choose. To be with Him while He is ignored by others.

    I can choose to fast from the delights of the table on any day, at any time. I can choose the more rigorous fasts of the Church during Advent & Lent.

    I am free to prefer tears to laughter. And I am free to prize innocence, wit, and mirth.

    If they cast off modesty, it is my prerogative to pick it up and “put it on” — complete with head covering in the Real Presence.

    I am free to dispense with technological entertainments in favor of active pursuits and uplifting cultural and spiritual reading.

    I do not have to use filthy language nor laugh at rude jokes.

    I may choose silence over earbuds. I’m free to choose to listen to sermons and Gregorian chant and classical music over the free rotgut ‘gifts’ of Big Tech.

    I am free to undertake the leavening of society where I find it. I may choose not to be ever checking the neverending catalogue of photographs of others’ lives.

    I am free to choose the saints for my heroes.

    If they cast off teaching the Faith, I am free to pick up a copy of the Catechism or any of the encyclicals and dig away.

    If they cast off all obedience to Christ’s priorities and laws, I am free to shackle myself to them.

    If they permit and foster and even legalize all manner of perversion, I am still free to choose not to engage. And accept whatever penalty the powers that be wish to mete out.

    If conditions of life and wealth are conditional upon an acceptance of sin, I am free to find comfort in poverty, ruination, suffering, and death.

    And none of this is sarcastic.

    I am always free to fall on my sword for Christ. And hopefully, I do it for the right reasons.

    In all things–no matter how barbaric the conditions–I remain free to choose God and, by default, all the worldly privations that come as the price of choosing Him. Because this is only a vale of tears and a little sojourn, the pain will all evaporate quickly into eternity. And if I try to consistently choose for God, He will be what I have at the end. The Pearl of great price.

    And therein lies my peace.

    I pray for Our Holy Father but ultimately, he and The Barque are God’s responsibility. For me to worry about all this is ultimately a distraction from my own call to personal holiness.

    But should the Church hide her glorious fidelity to her Lord, the clunky domestic church of the laity *will* try to serve as His (temporary) Altar of Repose.

  69. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “I can’t speak for the pope and I can’t say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm.” – Cardinal Burke as transcribed at BuzzFeed in the full interview text.

    “Francis might need to find an occasion to explain in his own voice why he’s going after the people and groups that find themselves in his sights.” – John Allen, above.

    Mr. Allen seems to be very close to one mind with Cardinal Burke about what it were prudent for the Pope to do!

  70. Matt R says:

    +Oliveri has done nothing wrong and has apparently always cooperated with the Holy See and the civil authorities when cases of abuse surface. The bishop of Ciudad del Este, Livieres Plano, needed to go for his bringing a known sexual abuser into the diocese and giving him a position of authority. Fr. Urrogoity is a creep, and there’s no defending his innocence…even the SSPX expelled him. But that is decidedly not the reason the Holy See launched an apostolic visitation into the diocese, one which even Rorate Caeli blog fully supported. It was because he did not get along with the other bishops of Paraguay, and he was in the right to oppose one of their number leaving the clerical state to become the country’s president. He also did great things for the diocese, and it is my hope that the ministry is unimpeded by his unfortunate lack of judgment. Bishop Finn’s offense wasn’t nearly as bad, and there are many more bishops and priests who went without prosecution who deserved to be prosecuted and who deserved to be deprived of office.