Pope Francis slaps down those who resist the Holy Spirit

Pope Francis has been saying Mass semi-publicly in the chapel of the Casa S. Marta, where he has been living.  He has been giving a “fervorino” at Mass, that is, a brief, usually off the cuff, sermon.  So far, there is no indication that these little daily blips are going to be in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, but let that pass.

Today, commenting about St. Stephen the Proto-martyr, Francis made remarks about the Holy Spirit and the anniversary of the the Second Vatican Council and people who don’t like change.

The site of Vatican Radio has something of the fervorino.  They, alas, don’t provide the whole text.  They cut it up, adding commentary, even in the audio reportage.  The English site provided less than the Italian site.  Irritating.  Don’t we want the whole text?  If the whole text isn’t important enough to give in toto, then how important is it?  But let that pass.

Francis quoted Stephen before he was killed, according to the Vatican Radio piece which I checked against the Italian… and you can see how cut up this is:

“the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward.” He said that we wish “to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong.” Pope Francis said “that’s because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it’s what gives us the strength to go forward” but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar.
Nowadays, he went on, “everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but it’s not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it.” The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” [The Italian says: “Ci sono voci che vogliono andare indietro…. there are voices which want to go back”] This, he went on, “is called stubbornness [“essere testardi”] and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope said the same thing happens in our personal life. “The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.” He concluded his homily by urging those present not to resist the pull of the Holy Spirit. “Submit to the Holy Spirit,” he said, “which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.”

Some people in the traditionalist camp are going to have a spittle-flecked nutty about this.

Let’s breathe into a paper bag and think about what is going on.

There is no doubt in my mind that the “testardi… the stubborn… the stiff-necked” Francis is speaking about are the SSPXers.  He is not talking about those who are actually in union with the Roman Pontiff and who are legitimately making use of Summorum Pontificum.

Benedict was all about protecting the Council from the left and from the right.  Benedict was all about reading the Council correctly and defending it from false readings.  As a matter of fact he tackled this in his last days as the Roman Pontiff.  HERE

What Francis did in the fervorino today must, I think, be read in terms of what Francis himself has been saying, as well as in terms of what Pope Benedict did.

For example, a week ago Saturday, Francis slapped down dissenters from doctrine in his fervorino.  HERE.  He hit pretty hard, too.  Francis said, just over a week ago, that negotiating away parts of the Faith is “the path of apostasy, of disloyalty to the Lord”.

He has a “path” and “journey” image there. He uses the same image today… going forward or going backward. Francis did not say “turn back the clock”.  At Fishwrap editor Tom Fox wrote a piece about his fervorino and twice misquotes “turn back the clock”.  They don’t read Italian over there or check the Italian, I guess.  And how much attention did Fox and the National Schismatic Reporter give to Francis harsh words about dissenters?  I think you know the answer.

Let’s go to the next step and review what Benedict did.

Benedict did a lot to get the SSPX back into the fold, but he did not give them ice cream cones, either.   For example, Benedict played hardball with the SSPX through the Doctrinal Preamble.  Remember when Benedict lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops?  Here is what Benedict wrote to the world’s bishops in 2009:

The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, [NB] in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes.

Is Francis really that far from Benedict in this matter?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Ecclesiae unitatem, Our Catholic Identity, SSPX, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices, Throwing a Nutty, Vatican II, What are they REALLY saying? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. greasemonkey says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to assume Pope Francis intends the SSPX alone to be the “stubborn”. Some of us would like to HOPE that is all he means, but the truth is that we just don’t know. The entire “read Francis through Benedict” is a tool to tranquilze ourselves from freaking out because of how very different Pope Francis IS, and that the similarites are so very hard to find while the visible contradictions scream out!
    I feel like a Pope like Francis more than likely feels that anyone who prefers the EF of the liturgy is trying to tame the Holy Spirit… and the ones who celebrate the liturgy his way, and carries out the papal ministry in his style are the one who are “moving the Church forward”. If it weren’t the case I think that one would have not scene such a rupture with his predecessors from his first moments on the loggia.

  2. SimonDodd says:

    At absolute best, giving Francis all the benefit of the doubt possible, his comment was stupendously ill-judged. Perhaps the voices whom he has in mind are the SSPX types and more loyal traditionalists; after all, it would be peculiar to suppose that Francis honored Benedict and then, seconds later, slandered him and those who agree with him as wishing to “tame” the Holy Spirit and to “stubborn[ly]” “resist” the council because he, and we, are “fools and slow of heart.” We can reasonably assume that he’s not talking about the reform of the reform or those who prefer the old Mass, because the context seems to preclude that conclusion no matter how much the words themselves might push incline us toward it. But with the best intentions in the world, these words can readily be misunderstood (and thus easily-spun) as slandering people like Benedict, like me, like millions of faithful, orthodox Catholics—and for what? What was gained? Was it worth the purchase price, to wit, putting this divisive and protean statement irretrievably into the public record?

    If the history of the internet proves anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what a speaker’s original intent was, or how many times the spin is debunked. Nothing ever goes away online; it just circulates endlessly. This silly and ill-judged quote, no matter what Francis’ intentions, will still be circulating on the internet in a decade—will still be being used by liberals to “prove” that Francis was a liberal and that traditionalists are bad Catholics and every bit as disloyal to the Pope as anyone else.

    One of the things that I liked about Benedict, and I liked it George Bush, too, and find the converse offputting in their successors, is that he shut up occasionally. They spoke when they had something to say, and in Benedict’s case, he spoke in a measured, careful, and thoughtful way.

  3. Lucas Whittaker says:

    It might also be important to read what Pope Francis says in the light of what he has on his plate at the time. He is dealing with various extremes and it would be easy to see how his words could be shaped by what is on his mind at the time.

    I agree with you, Father Z: It is important to have a full text of his homily. Absolutely.

  4. Bressani56 says:

    Father, unless I mistaken, you missed the key point to what Pope Francis said:

    “But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was?”

    You also missed that Pope Francis was celebrating Benedict XVI’s birthday, so he would not chastise Benedict XVI on his birthday.

  5. cstei says:

    Rorate has a translation which gives the following final sentence.

    This is called being stubborn, this is called wanting to tame the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming fools and slow of heart.

  6. JonPatrick says:

    Seems to me that at this point in time the people trying to turn the clock back are the progressives; the reform of the reform is part of what is moving the church forward. I prefer to look at this statement in this light. The New Evangelization goes hand in hand with a reverent liturgy.

  7. mamajen says:

    I’m so glad you decided to tackle this, Father. I saw some of the spittle-flecked nutty and had steam coming out my ears. What a thing to do on Pope Benedict’s birthday!

    Anyway. I, also, had the impression that he was referring to the SSPX if he was referring to traditionalists at all (which isn’t entirely clear). It makes sense, since the recent “smackdown” of LCWR, and I’m sure he’s on the same page as Benedict with regard to SSPX as well. Maybe this is a hint of more to come on that. While I hope he doesn’t give up on them completely, it sounds as though he will not be quite as patient as his predecessor (and given what we’ve seen since his election, who can blame him?).

    I think it’s great that he’s acknowledging that Vatican II was not properly implemented, but at the same time we cannot just pretend that it never happened. It happened for a reason. This is another one of those sermons that can apply to both extremes–we have “spirit of Vatican II” people who want to stay in the 70’s, and on the other side we have the SSPX who want to live before V II. Vatican II never outlawed the EF mass, and I see no reason why people should be getting their knickers in a twist because the Pope is defending it (just as Benedict did). The EF is perfectly compatible with a correct interpretation of Vatican II as long as we don’t bring into it the negative baggage that some extremists like to carry around with them.

    I agree with Pope Francis–living in the past is very foolish indeed. So is looking for the worst possible interpretation of everything the Pope says or does.

  8. Kent says:

    On the other hand, it sure seems by these papal words there is a definite turning away from the path we have been on for the last 8 years. That might be alright for some who have access to traditional liturgies but for others (those who have to suffer through NO liturgies, EMHCs, banal music, homilies devoid of the words of everlasting life, no Latin, no chant) it is very disheartening. Especially so when you see your children abandoning the faith and realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming and the hoped for reforms are fading from the picture.

  9. mamajen says:


    You really think he’s so stupid that he would dedicate the mass to Pope Benedict and then (even appear to) slander him within the same paragraph? Really?

  10. Basher says:

    What Francis giveth with one hand (LCWR decision) he taketh away with the other (Todays’ statement about turning back the clock). [It isn’t quite that.]

    I am finding myself agreeing with the “pox on both your houses” assessment Fr. Z originally made, except that I think we can now see more closely where Francis is, where the space between the two “houses” is. It is Argentina, which liturgically and theologically is 1981 America.

    The LCWR is in fact to the left of where the Church in the USA was in the early 80’s. And, of course, virtually everyone else is to the right of it. We are rapidly learning where Francis’ “middle” is. It’s way over there, folks.

  11. Basher says:

    “”You really think he’s so stupid that he would dedicate the mass to Pope Benedict and then (even appear to) slander him within the same paragraph? Really?””

    What is ‘stupid’ about being a forceful and determined leader? Nothing. I don’t think Francis is stupid, not at all. He’s a Jesuit, for one, and a chemist if that’s not enough. However, I absolutely do think today’s statement is aimed at Benedict and Traditionalism in general. [No.]

  12. wolfeken says:

    I’m not sure how to read this any other way than a chastisement of those who want to restore pre-Vatican II discipline. So, now those who prefer anything before the Untouchable Second Vatican Council are stubborn, as if the Catholic Church was founded in the mid 1960s.

  13. SimonDodd says:

    Jen, did you actually read my comment? I said “it would be peculiar to suppose that Francis honored Benedict and then, seconds later, slandered him….” So, no: No I do not “really think he’s so stupid that he would dedicate the mass to Pope Benedict and then … slander him within the same paragraph.” But as to what appears, or what can be made to appear—that is an entirely different question, and the answer is apparent. The very fact that we are here, having to parse Francis’ words, having to contextualize and read between the lines and speculate and “read Francis through Benedict” in the hope of finding a plausible interpretation that escapes the seeming import of the words is telling. When a statement is sufficiently clear that it cannot reasonably be taken to “appear to” say something it doesn’t, there is no need for such an exercise.

  14. ChuckShunk says:

    Couple of things:

    1) Pope Benedict always thought of himself as a pope of the Second Vatican Council. As an enormous oversimplification, I like to divide the bishops/theologians of Vatican II into three categories: the conservatives (aka the “defeated minority”), the orthodox progressives or progressive sympathizers, and the secretly heterodox progressives. (We can debate about how many fall into this last group, but I think it’s clear that there were at least some important theologians who fell into this category). Quite late in his pontificate, Benedict was still talking about how the “defeated minority” was wrong: he clearly did not identify himself with this group, as much as traditionalists would like to have put him there. I think it’s pretty clear that JPII, B16 and now Pope Francis all came from the second group.

    2) Pope Francis is fairly old. By the time you are a certain age, your mental landscape *tends* to be already set, and you have a lot of habits of thinking that were formed by earlier controversies that you experienced at seminal periods in your life. I’ve always tended to see statements about traditionalists coming from JPII, B16, and now Pope Francis, as colored by their much earlier struggles against the “defeated minority.” Granted Pope Francis was not *at* Vatican II as B16 was, but he was a Jesuit seminarian at the time, and I think the “conservative vs. progressive” argument was something he would have been exposed to in that environment as well.

    To me, this is the only way to make sense of Pope Francis’ responses to critics of his liturgical practices, that one should not get too comfortable as a Catholic, and that devotion to the ever-new Christ and the Holy Spirit should open you to radical change (i.e. conversion). This makes perfect sense as an argument against the “defeated minority”, who were always accused of listening to counsels of fear above courageous faith. Personally, I find the argument strange and hard to accept. Not that the spiritual point is bad (it’s not: rather, I think it’s a good wake up call to try again to stir myself out of lukewarmness). But personally, when I see liturgical novelties done for the sake of some hokey point or other, the *last* thing I experience is fear because something is changing. I was born in ’76–what *I* experience is weariness: a sort of “here we go again!” feeling. It’s what I grew up with; I didn’t experience Latin and liturgical solemnity until I was 18 or so, and when I did, I experienced it as something entirely new and envigorating.

    At this hour, I think people like me are in the majority in the traditionalist movement. I’m not sure to what extent Pope Francis understands this aspect of the traditionalist movement–my impression is that he may not understand it very well.

  15. heway says:

    Sorry guys, but as a daughter of Vatican II, [I am not sure what that means. V2 didn’t begin a new Church and it was hardly – in the long arc of history – an important Council. This phrase has a hint of “discontinuity” to it.] I don’t have a problem with what Pope Francis is saying. For 40 years we have had plenty of opportunities to welcome the Spirit into the life of our church. I never ‘suffer’ through any liturgy, NO or EF. Jesus is present and that is why I am present.
    Today I am going to a ‘ladies’ luncheon at the ‘Cowboy Church’…it is what it says. Usually Baptist or Pentecostal. The ladies have a monthly luncheon for all the christian ladies in the community. I go because I have been put in action by the Holy Spirit to bring my faith to wherever I will be welcomed. I firmly believe that is what we are all called to do. Open our hearts to all that they may see where our ‘energy’ comes from, what our faith is all about. Make sure you keep up with catechesis, so you are comfortable explaining your catholicism and then put your faith into action with the guidance of the Holy Spirit -who is ALWAYS there to help you….

  16. mamajen says:


    Well, I apologize if I misunderstood, but you called his comments “stupendously ill-judged” and I think that rather contradicts what you said after that. It’s more than “peculiar” that some people would interpret him as slandering, it’s downright stupid.

    I think it’s very clear that Pope Francis absolutely reveres Pope Benedict, even if he doesn’t like to dress exactly the same way. He probably assumes that most people will have gotten that by now, especially coming on the heels of the LCWR statement. It is not his fault that certain people still find room for speculation when they should be using their brains.

  17. The more I think about the Pope’s comments (and taking into account that we don’t have a verbatim text), the more confusing they seem. Is he suggesting that, in the wake of the Council, we acted as if the Council had never taken place, and tried to sweep it under the rug? That can’t be right; and it’s different from suggesting that we did all sorts of things, but not the ones the Council called for.

    And the devotees of the Cult of Change are going to run with this. I don’t think the Holy Spirit (Who, by the way, I hate to see described as an “it” as the translation has it) is into change for its own sake. Change has to be ordered toward the good. Plato went so far as to say that any change that is not meant to remedy an evil is itself an evil.

  18. SimonDodd says:

    Re “I see no reason why people should be getting their knickers in a twist because the Pope is defending [Vatican II]”—I see no reason for that either, but that has nothing to do with this situation. In the knicker-twisting comments, Francis wasn’t “defending [V2],” he was saying that there are a group of people who are stubborn, foolish, and slow of heart, who resist the council and seek to tame the Holy Spirit. And who are those people? They are “those who wish to turn the clock back.” But who are those who wish to turn back the clock? What does that mean?

    Well, I’ve lost count of how many times liberals have accused me of being in that group. Of wanting to turn back the clock. You read that, and Father reads it, to mean SSPX, and I choose to read it the same way. But we’re just interpreting it, and what, Jen, do you suppose the Fishwrap and its cocombatants interprets it to say? And whose interpretation will prevail? To whose advantage does this play, after decades in which loyal non-SSPX traditionalists have been falsely accused of doing precisely what Francis has just faulted?

    This ill-conceived line will be thrown in our faces for years to come. It’s going to be thrown in our faces online and in every parish meeting—we’re going to hear Francis quoted against us in every situation when we are or would anyway have been accused of trying to turn back the clock. And so what if he didn’t mean us? So what if it could be read a different way? So what if we can make arguments that show that, by preponderance of the evidence, our interlocutor’s interpretation of Francis’ words is less-plausible than our own? Forty years after Vatican II, how many times have we slumped our shoulders and growled in despairing frustration when someone insists, and forces us to repudiate for the umpteenth time, that Vatican II turned around the alters and mandated the vernacular Mass?

  19. Rellis says:

    +1 for @ChuckShunk. You see that with a lot of bishops of a certain age. They don’t understand that most liturgical conservatives are far more “Summorum Pontificum” era than they are “Ecclesia Dei adflicta” era. I would not be at all surprised if the Holy Father is one of those bishops. I hope he learns more about the Church he is custodian of, and the various groups within it. He’s new.

    The Pope really, really doesn’t understand how his words and actions go beyond himself yet. That’s clear from the high fives going on right now at Pray Tell Blog. I await the first gesture from this Pope of support for the liturgical renewal. Just one.

    Fr. Z, I don’t envy you. You’re having to take what is obviously bad news and cheer us all up. I don’t quite believe you, but I do thank you.

  20. SimonDodd says:

    And that, Jen, is why I called his comments stupendously ill-judged, and I would reiterate the point. His comment was stupendously ill-judged even assuming that he was talking about SSPX. It is going to be thrown in our faces for years.

  21. The Drifter says:

    “Festeggiamo questo anniversario, facciamo un monumento, ma che non dia fastidio” The Holy Father’s use of the word “monumento” is interesting, since in Italian it does not just mean “monument”, for example a celebrative statue or building, but also a piece of writing destined for posterity and voluntarily interpreting certain events of the past. And who are those who have erected a “monumento” to VCII, so that the latter “non dia fastidio”? (freely translated as “being a pain in the rear”)

  22. NBW says:

    I f we are to read Francis through Benedict : ” Ma dopo 50 anni, abbiamo fatto tutto quello che ci ha detto lo Spirito Santo nel Concilio? In quella continuità della crescita della Chiesa che è stato il Concilio? No.”
    Francis :” But after 50 years have we done everything that the Holy Spirit said in the Council? In that continuity of the growth that is the state of the Council? No.

    Benedict: There was the Council of the Fathers – the true Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the Council that immediately, effectively, got thorough to the people was that of the media, not that of the Fathers.

  23. Long-Skirts says:

    Our Holy Father said:

    “We don’t want to change”


    Babies every two, three years –
    Teaching teens to clutch, change gears –

    Double, subtract
    When souls God sends –

    Tradition means…
    Change NEVER ends!

  24. NBW says:

    correction: “continuity of growth stated in the Council” sorry about that.

  25. ChuckShunk says:

    @Miss Anita Moore, O.P.:

    The argument by the orthodox progressives against the conservatives around the time of Vatican II was not that change for the sake of change was good. The argument was that tradition for the sake of tradition was stifling possible good changes. And I think that is the argument Pope Francis is trying to make now: he’s basically restating a 50 year old argument. And, maybe tacitly admitting that the “good changes” the orthodox progressives were hoping for haven’t come about (yet)? I don’t know.

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr Z wrote, “Don’t we want the whole text? If the whole text isn’t important enough to give in toto, then how important is it? But let that pass.” Yes, we want (or ought always to want to have available) the whole text! Please don’t “let that pass” (other than as a passing rhetorical figure)!

    And the ‘context’: here including, which verses of the Acts, in which translation, exactly? For (following on from Jon Patrick’s comment) Acts 7:39-43 is all about “andare indietro”! Who, in the name of ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ and indeed too often in the Name of Our Lord the Spirit, “aversi sunt cordibus suis” to the sub-Revealed, to idolatrous tyranny, to Pentapolitan ways? Is it too much to hope that Pope Francis is primarily thinking of the ‘progressives’ who are the worst sort of ‘regressives’, in fact?

  27. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Regarding Pope Francis’ “There are voices which want to go back [or turn back the clock].” The major problem seems to stem from a lack of a correct understanding both of the faith and of Vatican II. Talking about this isn’t going to be fruitful until we can answer the question, “How do we educate people apropos the catechism?” Until then we will be talking in circles.

    Nearly every other avenue leads to speculation, “however far one may advance in speculation, even assisted by God’s grace and with one’s mind ‘enlightened’ (cf. Eph 1:18), one cannot get to the end of what one is searching for. Nor is it possible for any created mind, for as soon as it has found something of what it was looking for, it catches something new to inquire about. . . Therefore it is to be desired that everyone, according to one’s strength, should ‘forget what lies behind and look forward to what lies ahead’ (Phil 3:14), both to ‘better works’ and to a purer sense and understanding ‘through Jesus Christ our Savior’ (Tit3:8; 6) (Origen).

  28. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “All is grace” is what Saint Therese of the Child Jesus said.

    I have ceased to lament the hideous and repellent music at Mass; the inane happy-clappy hymns, the off-key cantors, the strumming guitars crowding out our view of the altar, the out-of-tune choir, the show-tune aesthetic of most of the musical selections. I hope to wait them out. Maybe one day, we’ll get a liturgy director who actually likes the classical Catholic music repertoire, and will know how to attract volunteer choir members and musicians. I should so like that, and will join, if I can. And, one day, I hope to hear angel choirs singing in Heaven: and what earthly music could possibly compare with that?

    “All is grace.” Jesus, this music is truly dreadful; I’m sorry that we seem to be offering You less than our best, but it is unfortunately just the way it has to be for now. Jesus, may I make up for this in my small way, by not complaining (much), even inwardly, by trying my best to maintain a serene and devout attitude even through the worst of the music they put out there, and by offering it all up to You in love and thanksgiving for all You have done for me, with a petition that you would send us music and musicians by which we may glorify You as You would wish to be glorified. Amen.

  29. mamajen says:


    Okay, I understand where you are coming from, I’m just not as worried as you are. The liberals were triumphant about the foot washing, and now they’re gnashing their teeth over his rebuke of LCWR. I don’t think this sermon has made anything worse than it already was, and I’m optimistic that there will be positive developments in the future.

  30. McCall1981 says:

    I apologize if this has been posted somewhere already, but I found this section without commentary:

    “We offer this mass for him [Benedict XVI], so that the Lord be with him, comfort him, and give him great consolation. … The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit. Think of Pope John: he looked like a good parish priest, and he was obedient to the Holy Spirit, and he did that. But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No. We celebrate this anniversary, we make a monument, but do not bother. We do not want to change. And there is more: there are calls [voci, also ‘voices’] wanting to move back. This is called being stubborn, this is called wanting to tame the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming fools and slow of heart.”

  31. bwfackler says:

    as soon as we know what he thinks he are to be going forward into or changing into, we will know whether we should be having a “spittle-flecked nutty”. until then, all we have are pretty vague, generic statements, buzz words really, and can only make speculations to drive ourselves nuts with.

  32. ChuckShunk says:

    I want to inject a note of optimism here. My theory, as stated above, is that Pope Francis’ comment has to be seen in the light of a seminal controversy coming from the time of the Second Vatican Council. It should be noted that although today, traditionalists might want to identify with the conservatives in that debate, and that the very word “progressive” is rightfully a thing of horror to them, this point of view was acquired by bitter experience over many years. At the time of the council, the situation was not quite so clear cut. The “orthodox progressives” did, I think, have some valid points.

    I have a couple of theology degrees, and I’ve picked up a few old seminary manual-style textbooks from the pre-Vatican II period. They are dull, stodgy and formulaic, and I think they deserved a certain amount of scorn that they got back in the day. In Pope Francis’ first public homily, he quoted an intellectual by the name of Leon Bloy. He was a bracing Catholic thinker, of the same school as Jacques Maritain. He certainly had his flaws, but I don’t think it was ridiculous back in the Vatican II days to think that with some of the more brilliant Catholic thinkers out there, you could come up with something better, more profound, and more inspiring as an intellectual font for young priests.

    In fact, I still don’t think that is ridiculous, and if I were Pope, I would not want to go back to the old manuals in the seminaries. Despite all the garbage that was published and that did actually get into the seminaries, there has been enough good stuff published that if *I* were redoing a seminary course of studies from scratch, I would use mostly either primary sources (Bible, Fathers, Scholastics), or things published post-Vatican II.

    Most of us would not be afraid of this, because we all read and love things written by fellow warriors against the liberal crusade to destroy the Church, written since Vatican II. So these things would not seem like “changes” to us. But in the perspective of the *original* conservatives, a lot of these very good spiritual and theological writers *would* have been regarded as radical departures from the staid manual theology of the first half of the twentieth century.

  33. McCall1981 says:

    Strange that the report leaves out the second part of this phrase:

    “But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No.”

    It really modifies and clarifies what he is saying.

  34. LarryW2LJ says:

    I agree with Jonpatrick. It seems obvious to me that if Pope Francis were intent on going back to the “Spirit of Vatican II” that he would not have re-affirmed the finding regarding the LCWR.

    It is my personal belief that Pope Francis is all about Christ, and His mission. I also think that he believes as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI does, that Vatican II was supposed to be a hermeneutic of continuity and not rupture. And when he speaks of “not going back”, Fr. Z mentions the SSPXers, but I think he might also be referring to the 70s, where we got derailed.

  35. kpoterack says:

    “But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No.”

    I agree with McCall1981 on the importance of the second sentence. (To what degree have we promoted Gregorian chant as the music proper to the Roman rite? Sacrosanctum Concilium art. #116) Still, I would like to remind people that this is an off-the-cuff homily. We have to be careful about parsing every sentence as if this were a written document. Also, I think that ChuckShunk makes some excellent points: remember the man’s age and the context out of which he is coming.

  36. BLB Oregon says:

    To rejoice when the errant are admonished and turned back to the truth is no evidence of schadenfreude. For the Holy Father to correct those who persist in wrong-headedness is a great act of love, an opening for grace.

    As for the Spirit of Vatican II, anyone who does not believe that Pope Benedict XVI was an absolute expert on what was and was not intended at Vatican II needs some serious self-examination, not to mention an honest reading of the teachings actually promulgated by the Counsel. The Church did not carefully and specifically write one set of instructions and explanations while intending a “spirit” that is something totally different! Who would do that? What hand could the Holy Spirit have had in such a thing?

    There have been many lies told with the excuse that these were in “the Spirit of Vatican II”, that is for certain. There is not and never has been a Pope who intended for women religious to wander off into passing off New Age falsehoods or rebellious Catholics pretending ordination as if it were the truth, nor did the Counsel Fathers ever intend any such thing. It is a total fabrication that they ever did, and there is not a shred of evidence that supports such an outlandish and impossible notion.

  37. Jack Hughes says:

    Part of the underlying problem is that apart from Trads, No one, Popes, Bishops, Priests or laity have a sense of Passing on what was received anymore.

    When St Pius the X died and his successor was elected these wacky conversations would never have happened, Benedict the XV may have paid more attention to the curia than his predecessor but the average Catholic in the pew couldn’t tell the difference.

    now after the super dogma of V2 all sense of tradition has been abandoned, the cult of the Pope, Bishop and Priest has become central to the life of the average catholic, the Pope’s every word is now dogma much the same as the mormons and Bishops and Priests who are faithful to Orthodoxy have to worry if their successor will tear up all the good they did because the liturgy/teaching is now the property of the Priest/Bishop in question and who give a crap about his predecessor.

    I see this attitude in Neo-catholic blogs such as Fr Longnecker and Mark Shea, they LOVED the EF and Tradition when Papa Benedict was in charge, but NOW with Pope Francis we have to listen to the ‘challenge’ to live the Gospel which somehow the tiered old retiree in Catal Gandolo never got around to, and to criticize his successor in anyway is tantamount to being a protestant.

    I shudder to think what St Leanord of Port Maurice would say about the Holy Father’s remarks about a ‘poor church’ .

  38. VexillaRegis says:

    Some people seem not to be able to distinguish between the spirits of Vat 2 and VAT69.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  39. dominic1955 says:

    I just hope for a day when we stop being Ultramontanists and start being Catholic. I supposed it was easier when one couldn’t possibly parce every ferverino of a Pope or even know for sure who the Pope was at any particular time if you lived more than a few hundred miles away. We really need to stop treating them like Mormon prophets. We got especially lazy with this in the pre-Vatican II era when there were so many good, strong popes and I personally think much of the havoc that happened after Vatican II was because so many people let themselves get intellectually and spiritually lazy about the faith-assuming the Pope or Father would just take care of everything and I’d just keep coming on Sunday.

    The best we can do is be solidly and intelligently Catholic at our own level, then it really doesn’t matter who is pope or who our bishop is or who the priest is. Come good or bad (and either is possible) we will remain.

  40. I think it’s just a mistake to see this narrowly through the lens of either “liturgy” or “Spirit of Vatican II” categories. There is a lot more to Vatican II than those issues of complaint. Folks, you do realize there’s a lot more in the documents of Vatican II than something about liturgy, something about ecumenism, and something about religious doffing their habits?

    Assuming the Holy Father is correct that the Holy Spirit wants to take us somewhere–wherever that may be, isn’t he correct that we shouldn’t fight that?

  41. Ignatius says:

    It amuses me (sort of) seeing every fellow Catholic now trying to decypher what Pope Francis really said. It was a constant exercise for us as his subjects in Buenos Aires… We all gave up saying: “He’s a Jesuit, you know…”

    Honestly, I just don’t know what he meant with “Ci sono voci che vogliono andare indietro”. But I remember reading yesterday that Card. Kasper, in a recent interview (which I cannot find right now) said that “progressives” were the real traditionalists because they wanted -his words, not mine- to brin the Church to its more ancient and traditional practices. It brought to my mind this passage of “mediator Dei” by PP Pius XII: “But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device…”

    Could Pope Francis be referring to this?

    Best regards.

  42. jhayes says:

    “Festeggiamo questo anniversario, facciamo un monumento, ma che non dia fastidio” The Holy Father’s use of the word “monumento” is interesting, since in Italian it does not just mean “monument”, for example a celebrative statue or building, but also a piece of writing destined for posterity and voluntarily interpreting certain events of the past. And who are those who have erected a “monumento” to VCII, so that the latter “non dia fastidio”? (freely translated as “being a pain in the rear”)

    He’s referring back to “a beautiful tomb” in a line he seems to attribute to Stephen (Martyr) back earlier in the homily:

    “Nell’omelia commenta la prima lettura del giorno: ci parla del martirio di Santo Stefano che prima di essere lapidato annuncia la Risurrezione di Cristo, ammonendo i presenti con parole forti: “Testardi! Voi opponete sempre resistenza allo Spirito Santo”. Stefano ricorda quanti hanno perseguitato i profeti e dopo averli uccisi gli hanno costruito “una bella tomba” e solo dopo li hanno venerati. Anche Gesù – osserva il Papa – rimprovera i discepoli di Emmaus: “Stolti e lenti di cuore a credere in tutto ciò che hanno detto i profeti!”. “Sempre, anche tra noi” – rileva il Pontefice – “c’è quella resistenza allo Spirito Santo”:

    “In the homily he commented on the first reading of the day: it tells of St. Stephen who, before being stoned proclaimed the resurrection of Christ, admonishing those present in strong words: “You stiff-necked people! You always oppose the Holy Spirit.” Stephen recalls how they persecuted the prophets and, after killing them, built “a beautiful tomb” and only then did they venerate them. Also, Jesus – observed the Pope – had rebuked the disciples at Emmaus as: “foolish and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have given you.” “That resistance to the Holy Spirit is still among us”, noted the Pontiff.”

  43. Jay E says:

    I think too many people associate the changes or initiatives of the Second Vatican Council purely with just liturgy, which is why they might freak out when Francis talks about those stiff-necked people who want to turn the clock back and thereby resist the Holy Spirit. I don’t think Francis’ statement has very much to do with people who just prefer the Tridentine form over the Novus Ordo, and I don’t think this is just to identify a certain camp of people (like the SSPX-ers). I’m sure there are many so-called “traditionalists” who domesticate the Holy Spirit and who simply want to turn back the clock. I have met many who are doctrinally faithful, but who clearly resist the work of the Holy Spirit in Vatican II (who would even cringe at the implication that Vatican II was a work of the Holy Spirit).

    I think the issue is more about evangelism – like he says “The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.” That should be the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council: a real call to mission, a communion of believers dedicated to evangelism, founded on conversion. That’s what the Council, what the past Popes (certainly Benedict), and what Pope Francis really want. We may have to rethink how we live as Catholics in order to be intentional witnesses to the Gospel, in order to center ourselves on conversion to the Lord.

  44. secondeve says:

    Father CNS has the complete translation:
    Pope Francis says Catholics still need to enact teachings of Vatican II

    (CNS/Paul Haring)

    By Cindy Wooden
    Catholic News Service

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While some Catholics would like to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, others basically are trying to build a monument to it rather than fully live its teachings, Pope Francis said.

    In his homily April 16 at an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis said Christians must struggle with the temptation to tame the Holy Spirit.

    “To speak plainly: The Holy Spirit annoys us,” he said. The Spirit “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the church to move forward.”

    But, too often, he said, Catholics are like the Apostle Peter on the mountaintop when Jesus is transfigured. They, like Peter, say, “Oh, how nice it is to be here all together,” but “don’t bother us.”

    “We want the Holy Spirit to sleep,” he said. “We want to domesticate the Holy Spirit, and that just won’t do because he is God and he is that breeze that comes and goes, and you don’t know from where.”

    The Holy Spirit is God’s strength, the pope said. The Holy Spirit “gives us consolation and the strength to move forward,” and the moving forward part is what can be a bother.

    People think it’s better to be comfortable, but that is not what the fire of the Holy Spirit brings, Pope Francis said.

    While Catholics today may be more comfortable speaking about the Holy Spirit than they were 50 years ago, it doesn’t mean the temptation to tame the Spirit has diminished, he said.

    Pope Francis said reactions to the Second Vatican Council are a prime example.

    “The council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?”

    The pope asked if Catholics have opened themselves to “that continuity of the church’s growth” that the council signified. The answer, he said, is “no.”

    Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.

    At the same time, Pope Francis said, “there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming ‘foolish and slow of heart,'” like the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.

    The same phenomenon can be at work in Christians’ personal lives, he said. “The Holy Spirit pushes us” to live the Gospel more seriously, but resistance is often one’s reply.

    Pope Francis ended his homily encouraging everyone to pray for docility to the Holy Spirit, “to that Spirit who comes to us and urges us forward on the path to holiness.”


  45. I think a lot of us who are more traditional would do well to treat Vatican II as a “home game” (to borrow Scott Hahn’s term, from a different context): if progressives really want to talk about doing what Vatican II actually said, I’m happy to have that conversation. Where shall we begin? I’ll happily open the documents to any page our progressive friends wish.

  46. ppb says:

    I’m very thankful for Fr. Z’s analysis here, and also mamajen’s comments. Two brief observations of my own: 1) The more I read the Holy Father’s speeches and statements, the more I *do* see many points of continuity between Benedict and Francis, and therefore I wouldn’t agree with those who think the “read Francis through Benedict” approach is just an attempt at pacification. 2) The progressives are always going to twist whatever the Pope says into something that suits their fancies, no matter what, so I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to evaluate a Pope’s statements on the basis of what the liberals could take from them and throw in our faces. Our concern should be to try to determine what the Holy Father is saying within the total context of his own statements and actions – not to minimize or deny anything that seems questionable, but not to overreact and see things that aren’t necessarily there, either.

  47. anilwang says:

    Unfortunately we don’t know which clock he’s referring to. Is he referring to:
    (1) TLM?
    (2) The centralized authority of the Pope (vs the “collegial Bishop of Rome”)?
    (3) Hippy Clown Polka masses in honor of Gaia?
    (4) Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” (versus the”hermeneutic of rupture” as understood by extremists on the neo-sedevacantist and neo-Anglican sides of the Church)
    (5) Greater lay involvement in the Church (versus the priest is responsible for all aspects of the parish, even those not related to the sacraments including evangelization, catechetics and parish finances)?
    (6) All nuns must be in habits?
    (7) The “Magesterium of Nuns”?
    (8) The “Magesterium of Theologians”?
    (9) The Vatican II change in emphasis in dealing with non-Catholics (e.g. invite conversion rather than just yelling “You’re going to Hell”)
    (10) Bishop’s conferences?
    (11) Reform of the curia?
    (12) People who want to forget Vatican II ever happened?
    (13) Charismatic Catholicism

    I’m still on the fence about Pope Francis, particularly on the reform of the curia and liturgical matters. Other than morals, which he seems to be solidly conservative,

    While I do trust in Francis as Pope (as I would the Borgia Popes which are undeniably the worst possible Popes) and I see him as a sincere Pope (but poorly catechized Pope WRT the liturgy that St Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier celebrated and the damage that bishops conferences have caused that might have encouraged the curia bureaucratic mess), history has shown that even sincere and holy Popes can make disastrous decisions that take centuries to repair.

    Personally, I don’t see a way to resolve my doubts or really understanding his context other than time (a year or two). In the mean time, there’s too much to do at the ground level and there’s so little we can do at the top level to be distracted by speculation.

    Latin mass societies flourished precisely at the time when liturgical abuse ran rampant precisely because faithful Catholics focused on what could be done rather than what was out of their control and must be left to God and his ministers.

  48. SPWang says:

    With due respect to the Holy Father, this was an off the cuff sermon and should be treated as such although it does give some helpful insight into his thinking…(love to see him with a couple under his belt, ‘in vino veritas’)… Look, I’m attracted to the smells and bells of trad Catholicism, it feeds me spiritually and I don’t have any concerns over these remarks. He could be very well referring to those who desire the days of the 70-80’s, keeping in mind he met the nuns on the bus crowd not long before this sermon.

  49. Blog Goliard says:

    I have no way of knowing precisely what was on the Holy Father’s mind when he delivered this homily.

    I do know where the most serious and potent resistance to moving forward comes from, in the contemporary Church in the first world at least.

    That would be from the faction which attempted to rebuild the Church in the image and likeness of themselves, and now wants their achievement preserved for all ages.

    The biological solution haunts these people, and has transformed them from revolutionaries to reactionaries. (Though they only ever believed in the right of their own generation to make such big changes anyhow…few revolutionaries have much tolerance for stiff-necked descendants who are reluctant to fall in line.)

  50. McCall1981 says:

    @Jay E
    You make a good point that this is to be taken in context of evagelization. The article says “The Pope said the same thing happens in our personal life.”, and then goes on to say “The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.” If its “the same thing”, then that means that in the first part where he’s talking about the whole Church and VatII, he’s referring to the evagelistic call too, that the Church should come out of itself to go out into the world and evangelize. He’s basically said this before, and its something I think we would all agree with.

    Also, we should keep in mind that this whole homily is in response to the reading on St. Stephen, who was martyred FOR EVANGELIZING; so evangeliztion really is the context.

    All of this points to him referring to what you called the “real heritage” of Vat II.

  51. wolfeken says:

    It is interesting that one of the biggest critiques of Vatican II was that it was extraordinarily vague. And here we are, 50 years later, when the current pope’s words on that council are just as vague. Should it really be this much work to figure out what the documents of a council and the sermons of a pope are actually saying?

    It is kind of embarrassing, actually. Somehow the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council — and the popes who talked about them — were crystal clear. There was not Mass Confusion (pun intended) as to what the dogmatic documents actually said.

  52. Ralph says:

    “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” St John 6:68

    I am in communion with the Church because I believe Christ wills it.
    I accept what she teaches as true because Christ gave Peter the keys of authority.
    I am obedient to the Church because I wish to be obedient to Christ.

    But it is getting hard, so very hard, to remain positive about the direction of the Church.
    I fear that this papacy may very well be, for me personally, a test of faith.

  53. FeedieB says:

    God is not a God of confusion. So why am I soooo confused since the election of Pope Francis. I’m trying to embrace him. I really am. But how can I when everything he says will be used in my Diocese to back up the “Spirit of Vatican 2”? I just always feel like crying these days. If it weren’t for you Fr. Z, I would be on the verge of throwing in the towel. Thanks for your wisdom and level-headed approach to all this.

  54. Feedie:

    I don’t know if this helps, but–have you considered that one thing we may fail to notice is–for lack of a better way to say it–how “new” Pope Francis’ “newness” is?

    Here’s what I mean.

    We had the same pope for 27 or so years: Pope Blessed John Paul II. He was succeeded by a reasonably familiar figure: Pope Benedict. While Pope Benedict wasn’t the same as Pope John Paul II, he was seen as a faithful follower of his; nothing terribly upsetting or surprising.

    With 8 years of Benedict, that’s more than a third of a century of a “familiar face.” So a new face seems awfully unsettling–but only because we’ve grown so accustomed to having a familiar face. I.e., I think almost anyone following Pope Benedict would have been too new; and then to have someone who was so unfamiliar, from the New World, taking a new name…it’s a lot to digest.

    But think of it–it’s not really anything awful; it’s just the uncertainty of an undiscovered country, after we’ve been “close to home” for so long.

  55. Choirmaster says:

    I’d rather be called “fool” for love of the Church’s Tradition and Liturgy than “wise” for seeking to dismantle or disregard it.

    Other than that, I refuse to believe that the Pope is actually saying that he–or anyone else, for that matter–has had a private revelation from the Holy Spirit, complete with an enumerated checklist of things that haven’t been done yet that the Council directed. I disagree that the Council must necessarily be a direct act of the Holy Spirit, in all its facets, such that anything said or done in it’s name must be accepted as a matter of faith.

    But I am not sure that the Pope is not talking about me in this homily. After all, I don’t think it’s a secret that I wholeheartedly disagree with his choice in “trappings”, his choice in mitres and ferulae, his reorienting of the altar in the Sistine Chapel to versus populum, and his departure from the Missal on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. I think it’s fair to say that he did these things because that’s what he wanted to do and that’s what he believes is right for the whole Church at this point in time. I do not, and I do not think I could easily be convinced otherwise.

    So, I feel the Pope’s charge of “fool” and “stubborn” rather sharply when taken in the context of his Pontificate to this point. I may have to accept that I will be somewhat at odds with this man in these respects.

  56. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    I can not believe we are discussing an edit of what The Pope said.

    Either they post the whole thing or don’t post any of it. The Pope should nip this in the bud. It does not help to be miss understood.

    When I read semi-publicly, I think semi-private. Maybe the Holy Spirit was speaking to those there. Maybe it was not for all to hear. Publish all or nothing. We can not make heads or tails of what someone else thought he was trying to say.

  57. Phil_NL says:

    “There was not Mass Confusion (pun intended) as to what the dogmatic documents actually said.”

    Well then, but VII didn’t have any dogmatic documents. And if you try to adjust attitudes, rather then define dogma, you may simply end up in a position where the human language cannot be clear enough. Not everything can be wrapped into legalese. Which is not to say the documents couldnt be a whole lot clearer, probably the people who wrote them were having the exact same problem of not being able to write down clearly what they proposed.

    Ironically though, those documents, and just about anything coming after it, are ignored by large chuncks of those who should listen exactly on the clear points. Which makes me wonder if the Vatican sometimes thinks it will be better listend to if it’s somewhat vague….

  58. Phil_NL says:

    (re the above: dogmatic is in defining new dogma)

  59. jacobi says:

    The Council was the work of the Holy Spirit and contained Truth. Sadly, because of the efforts of many progressives the documents also contained, and this is accepted now by sides, ambiguity and contradictions.
    This led, as it was intended to by the Reformers, to two clear and quite separate interpretations of the meaning of the Council. One is correct and is the voice of the Holy Spirit, the other is incorrect and is not the voice of the Holy Spirit. Ergo, which is which?

    Pope Benedict ruled authoratively on this problem when he said
    “The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council;”

    So, pastoral renewal in Continuity by all means, but no new binding teachings or doctrines. That is clear. The “Spirit of Vatican II” interpretation is wrong, in error, and must be dismissed by all Catholics. To interpretate otherwise is to reject the teaching authority of the Vicar of Christ – and the Holy Spirit.

    Therefore, by saying,
    “In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No”,

    Pope Francis says that many in the Church, i.e., the Reformers, have not yet accepted Pope Benedict’s ruling, and ought to do so.

  60. catholicmidwest says:

    Pope Francis is saying that’s been evident for some time now: That after Vatican II everybody found a way to do everything they’d always done and avoid everything they’ve always avoided. They just chose to do it in ways that looked different because that’s what they thought was required. That goes on to this day, all over the Church.

  61. Lucas Whittaker says:

    @ jacobi: “So, pastoral renewal in Continuity by all means. . .”

    The problem here is that those who dissent from the magisterium see continuity as “out of the question”. How do we promote our beautiful Tradition in the face of those who have to some extent and want to further reinvent the Church–even in the name of “being more pastoral”? For me this is the question of the day. (@jacobi: I saw your words as an opportunity to express what was on my mind; I like your point about dogma vs. doctrine.)

  62. SimonDodd says:

    Ralph, I think you’re right, and I’m right there with you. There is absolutely nothing that would drive me out of the Catholic Church. I am a Catholic because this is the Church founded by Christ; until that ceases to be true, per impossibile, I will be here. (I see these people going because of the abuse scandal or coming back because of Francis, and I think “what in the world is your faith built on that you come and go with the tides?”) And I think that you’re right: It will be a test of faith. It will be a rough ride. I don’t like him, I don’t trust him, I don’t find him inspiring—I find him awful, I feel no connection to him, I have no sense that we are in the same book, let alone on the same page, and everything that he says and does grates. The last several weeks have been incredibly shocking to me; I became a Catholic under Benedict’s pontificate, and so it is a completely new and jarring experience for me to find myself without a pope to whom I can relate in the slightest and for whom I have no personal respect or affection. I never before had to wake up every day wondering what new foolishness we would have to suffer from Rome. I’m aware on an intellectual level that the Church has had to suffer bad popes but I’ve never had to live through the reign of one.

    At the same time, however, we are Roman Catholics; we absolutely cannot act toward Francis in the manner that the dissenters and schismatics on the left acted toward Benedict. I will afford Francis everything that is due to his office—obedience, fealty, respect, and so on. Whatever our feelings about the man, we must remember that his authority has nothing to do with Jorge Bergoglio, about whom we may think as we will; he is our Holy Father the Pope, who has been duly-elected to the Holy See of Rome by the duly-appointed cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and when he puts on that miter, I must listen and do my best to assent, for it is not then Bergoglio who speaks but Peter who speaks through Francis.

  63. Katylamb says:

    What was the point of Vatican II? What was it supposed to change? What is the growth they talk about? These are all questions that I need to answer, or try to answer, before I can hope to understand what the Holy Father is referring to here. I read those documents a few years ago. I’m no scholar but they didn’t seem anything like what actually came of Vatican II in this country. I will go and read them again with more attention, so that I can see if they will help me understand this sermon.
    By the way, I don’t understand all those implied insults I read by other Catholics, calling people ultramontane or papist. I am a papist. I was raised in a large family of still faithful papists, and in my day only Protestants called anyone that. If I am confused by a teaching of the pope, it is my problem and I need to study and see where I’m misinterpreting, or indeed, where my thinking is totally wrong in the first place. The pope won’t lead us astray with his teaching no matter how much we may disagree with him in other areas.

  64. phlogiston says:

    Not sure who’s having the alleged spittle-flecked nutties over this, but in the main, the comments over at Rorate are not too dissimilar from those here. No one is really sure that Pope Francis is referencing traditionalists in general or SSPX specifically, although that does seem to be the obvious conclusion to draw re: “going back”. I can’t think of any other group that can readily be accused of wishing to “go back.” Maybe there are, but it’s a stretch. Maybe I’m reading my own emotions into them, but the comments over there appear to be some combination of “uh-oh” and “get ready to ride out the storm – here we go again.” That’s not terribly nutty to me. In fact, it’s perfectly rational.

  65. Phlogiston:

    While I can’t say it’s what Pope Francis meant, one could just as easily describe many “progressives” as wanting to “go back”–to a moment, a mindset, a nostalgia, circa 1965 to 1975, and recapture something that either didn’t exist, or even if it did, is now gone. Indeed, you’ll see folks of a certain age wistfully refer to “the days” during and after the council, and wish to be back there.

  66. The Masked Chicken says:

    The Holy Spirit has many attributes. Eevery Council is a work of the Holy Spirit and some past Councils were not concerned about something new, but about something old – the Truth. In fact, some Councils were meant to be Councils of simple stability. Vatican II is an outlier in the general tenor of Councils, but, nevertheless, is a work of the Holy Spirit. Not every Council means a springtime for change to something new, but every Council, properly implemented, means a springtime of Truth.

    The Holy Spirit’s primary attribute in his relationship with man is peace: the tranquility that flows from God’s right order. It is not that the Holy Spirit causes some crazy new dance of creation in the Church from time to time; rather, the Holy Spirit is the timekeeper behind the music. He conducts as He wills. Those who follow the beat are at peace. The beat may be slow, it may be fast. What it can’t be is false.

    The problem is that, to date, it has been very hard for the Church to find that peace which should be flowing from Vatican II. The reason seems to be that someone has hi-jacked the microphone and fed a broken metronome into the speaker. It is hard to hear the true beat.

    In any case, until there is peace flowing from it, not necessarily action, Vatican II will never have been properly implemented according to the Righteous Spirit.

    The Chicken

  67. Jack Orlando says:

    As several previous commentators have suggested, Why assume that Francis is talking about Traditionalists? The real “stiff-necked”, “stubborn”, and caught in a petrified past are the Liberals. They are the ones who wish to “turn back the clock” to, say 1975. It ain’t 1975 anymore.

    Anyone who can read knows that the Ordinary Form isn’t what Sacrosanctum Concilium wanted. That part of post-conciliar that was heresy and desecration also wasn’t what the Council wanted, and it wasn’t what the Holy Spirit wanted. Ironically, we move forward by going back to the Real Council.

    High time for V2 to be “properly implemented”, as this Pope and the previous have said.

  68. SimonDodd says:

    Father Fox, Phlogiston, I think there’s a perfectly good argument that liberals could be characterized as the ones who want to go back, but I think you have to ask yourself, quite candidly, to whose rhetorical toolbox does “you can’t turn back the clock” usually belong? If you go to the combox of the Fishwrap or and propose a return to chant, and if you go to the combox of Rorate Caeli and propose a teen life Mass featuring the liturgical use of NSYNC songs, you will be on the sharp end of some pretty rough responses, to be sure, but I think that if you had to bet, you’d bet that you would be accused of wanting to “turn back the clock” in only one of those two venues, no? Phlogiston “can’t think of any other group that can readily be accused of wishing to ‘go back,’” by which I assume he means accurately rather than readily, but nevertheless, the “turn back the clock” argument is a routine part of the liberal toolbox for describing, well, us.

  69. Basher says:

    Jack Orlando wrote:

    “As several previous commentators have suggested, Why assume that Francis is talking about Traditionalists? The real “stiff-necked”, “stubborn”, and caught in a petrified past are the Liberals. They are the ones who wish to “turn back the clock” to, say 1975. It ain’t 1975 anymore.”

    Ok, everyone who really, in their heart, thinks Pope Francis is calling out liberals for wanting to “turn back the clock” to 1975, please raise your hands.

    Uh huh. Didn’t think so.

  70. SimonDodd:

    Yes, I realize the “turn back the clock” is a favored phrase of the progressives. What’s your point?

    If you’re saying the progressives will feel validated…OK, but I’m not sure why I should be upset over that.

    If you’re saying the progressives will be stronger…how, exactly? They already flog that hobby horse as it is. Yes, I’d rather not have Pope Francis quoted on the subject, but in the end, it’s the same argument even if he’d never said it.

    If you’re saying it is a “tell” that Pope Francis is actually a progressive…I don’t think so.

  71. Rich Leonardi says:

    Assuming the Holy Father is correct that the Holy Spirit wants to take us somewhere–wherever that may be, isn’t he correct that we shouldn’t fight that?

    The key clause is “wherever that may be,” Fr. Fox.

    One month in, Pope Francis seems prone to taking an exhortatory tone without really exhorting us to anything in particular. It’s like a cavalry officer commanding, “Charge!” without pointing his saber.

  72. chantgirl says:

    Is it too much to wish for a little more John the Baptist in the preaching of priests, bishops, and popes? If you’re going to call out a brood of vipers, at least be specific so that we know who the vipers are. In our media age, we can’t afford to have the Pope’s words be twisted to mean anything that any group wants them to mean.

  73. JacobWall says:

    “But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis.”

    As far as I can see, it was under Benedict that we saw the most advance in “everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council.” John Paul II had a HUGE mess to clean up, and, in cleaning it up, he cleared the way for Benedict to actually begin moving in the direction of the Council. I am optimistic about this to various degrees on three points.

    (1) As far as doctrine goes, to me this means a Church that teaches what we see in the Catechism – one of the best expressions of doctrine which takes Vatican II into consideration – and I think we can check off that point with confidence.

    (2) As far as liturgy goes, if I understand correctly, the Council called for a greater deal of flexibility – but not the sweeping liberties that have been taken. I believe one purpose was to allow for a greater degree of expression for the various cultures that have now embraced the Faith – an idea that appears in Ratzinger’s earlier writings. So far we have seen a good deal of intellectual innovation thrust upon people from oligarchic “liturgical committees” etc. and the whims of individual priests, but virtually no real expression of local cultures. For example, singing Our Father to a Simon and Garfunkel tune is in absolutely no way an expression of Mexican culture, although some people seem to have smoked enough of something to believe that it is. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a wonderful expression of the Council to see something like “Mexican chant” – based on Gregorian or Plain Chant, but a Mexican take on it? Perhaps allowing for developments like this is where Pope Francis is going liturgically? Who knows – it’s a question mark, but I’m hopeful that we’ll begin see real cultural expressions replace the folk-hippie stuff that has been forced on people. For this to happen correctly, first we need to see the restoration of the foundation of the West’s ancient liturgical Tradition for it to built on. Which leads to the next point …

    (3) I think I’ve read (here?) that Gregorian Chant was almost dead – replaced with Baroque and Classical – at the time of Pope Pius X who made the first steps to revive it, and it was Vat II that officially recognized it’s special place within the liturgy – above and beyond the expressions of various cultures I just mentioned. So, if Pope Francis wants “everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council” then we should see the revival of Gregorian Chant continue, along with Latin. On this point, it doesn’t seem that Pope Francis is doing much – at least not yet. But on the other hand, as has been said in this blog, all he has to do is let what Benedict started continue, which I’m pretty sure we can also check.

    I would love to see the Church move forward with “everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council” and I’m enthusiastic that we will see this work of Benedict continue further under Pope Francis.

    Read Francis through Benedict.

  74. “There is no doubt in my mind that the “testardi… the stubborn… the stiff-necked” Francis is speaking about are the SSPXers.”

    You have absolutely no evidence that that is what he meant. Once again, Father, you are desperately trying to make the Holy Father say what YOU want him to say. But let’s assume you are right. The Holy Father is calling the SSPX bishops and priests “fools”. Well, that’s pastoral and loving! [Actually, I know what I am talking about.]

    I’m sorry, Father, but it’s not the traditionalists who are having a “spittle flecked nutty”. We know who we are dealing with. [Thanks for the nutty, though not quite a spittle-flecked nutty.]

  75. anilwang says:

    Some context.

    Okay, given this was a homily based on the readings of yesterday’s readings, it’s easy to summarize the context of the homily (since we don’t have a complete reference to the entire homily).

    The readings were: “Acts 6:8-15” and “Jn 6:22-29”.

    The context were the Pharisees rioting over St Stephen’s proclamation that Jesus is Lord and the followers of Jesus revolting over Jesus giving the Bread of Life discourse.

    Both readings clearly refer to the Jews resisting revelation from God, looking for their safe and familiar understanding of the Jewish non-Trinitarian God. If Vatican II were not mentioned, this homily would not raise red flags in even the most suspicious sedevacantist.

    Rereading the fragment of the homily (out of the context of the full homily), I suspect that if the line “We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” were omitted, the homily would not raise red flags amount Traditional Catholics since he stated that Vatican II was not implemented properly.

    So everything depends on one out of context, possibly off the cuff line in a homily which has no doctrinal standing.

  76. OrthodoxChick says:

    Pope Francis is beginning to remind me of a college friend of my deceased mother. They are, all 3, of the same generation. My mom’s college friend is politically conservative; a dedicated Republican and pro-life, anti-gay marriage N.O. attending, devoutly practicing Catholic. Yet, she is decidedly liturgically liberal. When I told my mom’s friend that I’m seeking to switch to the Latin Mass, she freaked out on me completely. “Oh, no!”, she shrieked, “I’ll never go back to those days. I’m strictly a modern Catholic girl.” Then I sat through a list of what was wrong with the Church back in the day. The usual stuff: it was too rigid – rules, rules, rules; no one was being taught Latin so they couldn’t understand what was going on at Mass, blah, blah, blah.

    So what’s my point? My mom’s college friend is not the only one like her that I’ve met over the years. We don’t tend to hear about them much because I think their voices are drowned out by the ultra-progressive, political, ideological liberals. They don’t really have a “camp”. They aren’t militant idealogues or cino’s. They definitely aren’t trad. But I think there’s a pretty good-sized chunk of people like my mom’s friend (and I’m coming to view Pope Francis as being this way as well) who DO support Church doctrine, are loyal to the Magisterium, but who feel that following Christ is about living that “peace, love, and understanding” vibe that pervaded the glory days of their youth. A more casual, touchy-feely Mass in one’s vernacular language is the core part of the package. I don’t agree with them now that I’ve experienced the beauty and majesty of the Latin Mass. I think we owe at least that much to Our Lord. But on the flipside, I don’t fear such folks either. The many I’ve met are not interested in suppressing the Latin Mass, it’s just that wild horses couldn’t drag them to one.

    I see these comments from Pope Francis as more along the lines of what he has been saying already. I think that what he might dislike very much about the traditional Mass is the traditional culture that once went with it. The trad culture of the 1950’s doesn’t have a reputation for being the era of taking Christ to the streets and if nothing else, that’s what Pope Francis is all about.

  77. Pope Francis is a Communion and Liberation man (go and check out what they believe, it is pretty hard core).

    Having seen the translation to his homily he does not expect the church to go down a Vatican II ‘protestant happy clappy’ route in all this. He talks about being more evangelical i.e. Catholic evangelical, not ‘protestant evangelical’. Scott Hahn is an example of a Catholic evangelical and even traditionalist sing his praises (despite the fact that he used to be protestant he now eats those from other denominations for breakfast). Hahn is also in line with Vatican II and with the Holy Spirit. There is no need to panic on this.

    Like I said, Google Pope Francis-Communion & Liberation. It is all about putting Christ and the Catholic Church right smack bang in the middle of the secular world, with no excuses and no quarter taken.

  78. Indulgentiam says:

    I have, by the grace of God, found something infinitely better than breathing into a paper bag. A 54 page, well 56 including the Bibliography, book written by Fr. Chad Ripperger titled, the Binding Force of Tradition. Whatever Pope Francis says, does or wears will no longer stress me out. Here’s a small excerpt. Below I will place a link of where to get it. Hurry b/c they are going fast.

    Forward by: Fr. James McLucas
    …one of the major obstacles to righting fallen human nature is the bane of contradiction. For Catholics struggling to order their intellects to the One True Faith in these times when all is in flux, The Binding Force of Tradition lifts the fog of confusion over a question which involves the heart of Catholicity, and sweeps clean the faddish debris of contemporary clutter.

    From; Chapter 1: The Rule of Father

    When the word “tradition” is brought up in the context of a theological discussion, one receives three different kinds of reactions in relationship to the word or concept. The first is a simple dismissal in the sense that tradition does not bind in any way based upon the assertion that the theological notions are constantly changing. Since they are constantly changing, “newer” is always better and the tradition has no binding force on the level of moral obligation because it is not “newer.” Broadly we may label this the liberal position. The second is in connection to what is called national assent. National assent is an intellectual judgement that a particular proposition is true but in the practical living of a persons life, it is not followed. This is seen when the Magisterium promulgates that the tradition is part of Divine Revelation even after Vatican II, but will promulgate documents that have no connection or reference to any document on the same subject prior to the Second Vatican Council. *footnote(For example, compare the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II, Satis Cognitum by Leo XIII and Mortalium Animos by Pius XI)
    Even certain neo-conservatives, or what are sometimes called neo-Catholics, suffer from this. The third is what is called real assent. Real assent is an intellectual judgement that a particular proposition is true and the person leads his life according to it. The purpose of this section of our work will be to explicate the various reasons why we are bound morally to follow the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church.
    This book teaches clearly, concisely and backs it all up with impeccable references. It reminded me that the Church has stood through the worst periods in history and She will continue. Because God said so.

    Link to book—http://www.sensustraditionis.org/books.html
    God bless Fr. Ripperger. I pray the Church will be blessed with many more like him and Fr. Z.

  79. southern orders says:

    I listened to the Italian commentary at the Vatican Radio website and what the Italian commentator said sounded a whole lot different than the English commentator. The Italian one played much more of Francis preaching the homily and in Italian, listening to it makes a big difference and you can detect some of the irony Italians use when speaking seriously but adding a bit of levity. I don’t think that in Italian the Holy Father referred to the Holy Spirit as an “It” either, that is a mistake in translation. Overall it was a nice homily to hear in Italian. Not a nice one to read in English although not that bad.

  80. Denis says:

    My reaction is similar to that of a few commenters above: these are very vague words that seem to resist a “continuity of tradition” interpretation, given that they sound like “Spirit-of-V2” slogans. I am somewhat comforted by Father Z’s confidence that, despite appearances, the Holy Father’s words do not signal a departure from Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity, though I am not terribly comforted by the suggestion that the harsher of the Holy Father’s words are directed at the SSPX, which seems quite uncharitable to me. I, too, am puzzled by the adjectival phrase “spittle-flecked,” since that was not my impression of the commentary at Rorate.

  81. Denis says:

    Pope Francis may be on the same theological page as Benedict but his style cannot be more different. The oracular and gnomic character of Pope Francis’s homilies is something new, and hard for me to get used to.

  82. McCall1981 says:

    @ southern orders
    Why was it “nice” in Italian, but “not nice” in English? What do you mean?

  83. Andrew says:

    … have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked.

    Take for example this Conciliar statement of the Holy Spirit asking us to do something:

    “… steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

    Parts such as “Domine non sum dignus …” or “Pater Noster” or “Gloria in excelsis Deo” or also “Credo in unum Deum” – just to name a few.

    These steps should be taken in order to move forward in obedience to the Holy Spirit even if we feel uncomfortable about it, even if we find it easier to stay where we are, that is, doing everything in English only.

  84. Indulgentiam says:

    @JacobWall says:On the other hand, wouldn’t it be a wonderful expression of the Council to see something like “Mexican chant” – based on Gregorian or Plain Chant, but a Mexican take on it?

    Your kidding right? Having everyone and his uncles “take” on the liturgy is why we are in this mess. Good grief ! The Mass is NOT ours to bend to our whims and preferences. It is supposed to be FITTING WORSHIP OWED TO THE ALMIGHTY. If “liturgy committees” want to personalize something they should go home, glitter and bedazzle their couch.
    I’m not going to pick apart everyone of the Holy Father’s words looking for the meaning behind the meaning. That’s too OCD for me. All of Catholicism is not riding on this pope or any other. But this Popes soul IS riding on his pontificate so he needs my prayers.

  85. JacobWall says:


    I agree with you that people like your mother’s college friend are much more numerous than is at first obvious – especially in that generation. As you said, they don’t have a home in the battle between conservative traditionalists and liberal innovators of everything. Wouldn’t people like Card. Dolan count among them?

    From my personal experience, in the questions of morals, doctrine, etc. they are clearly conservative. Although they do see liturgy as important, they tend to see it as more a means to accomplish something else (the Eucharist) – and a fairly flexible and changeable means; they don’t feel that the reverence for the Eucharist is affected by the reverence (or lack thereof) displayed in the liturgical style. As long as certain basics are kept in place, they don’t put much importance on it. You might say they distinguish between liturgy (which they would say is important) and liturgical style (which they would say is not.)

    In this way, the are different from Liberals because they are not on any mission to change everything. They are also distinct from Trads basically for the same reason, but on the other end of things. The sad part is that “visuals” make them look more like the Liberals than the Trads; walking into a parish run by these people, the first impression is “Liberal.” So, unfortunately, both Trads and Liberals will most often lump them in with the Liberals even though they do not in that camp.

    I am thankful for these people, because it was because of them that I finally took the final to join the Church. I delayed exploring Catholicism more fully for over a decade because of the impression that the Catholic Church had basically “gone Anglican” after Vatican II. When I finally started attending a parish with a modern liturgical style in Mexico, I can’t say I was impressed by the style, but when I finally met the two priests (both of whom would fall into this group, although one is considerably younger) I realized that they had by no means sold out in doctrine; they, along with my catechist, were very conservative and this was the “selling point” for me.

    From this experience I think it’s safe to repeat what you said, OrthodoxChick, that they are not out to suppress the Latin Mass, but rather are only worried that Trads want to do away with theirs. (Which, at least in some cases, is true.) When I asked one of the priests at this first parish about the Latin Mass, he told me that it was a wonderful and valid expression of the liturgy, but warned me not to be “turned against” the Ordinary Form of the Mass, saying that some Trads would be very aggressive in trying to “convert” me. Finally, he said the point of most importance was to be sure to attend a group that was in full communion with Rome, specifically mentioning FSSP as a good option. Otherwise, he said, I could go for it.

    I have seen the same sentiment on several other occasions (from all priests I have brought up the topic with, in fact) – “Sure, go ahead, go to the Latin Mass. Just don’t try to make it the only way.”

  86. JacobWall says:


    You obviously did NOT read my comment carefully. I likewise do not approve of “having everyone and his uncles ‘take’ on the liturgy” or “liturgy committees” who “want to personalize something” and I made that VERY clear in my comment. What I do support is authentic cultural expressions of liturgy which is something EXTREMELY different.

    Please read what people write before you jump all over them.

  87. Andrew says:

    Here are some other things the Holy Spirit is asking us to do:

    Moreover they (priests) are to acquire a knowledge of Latin … (Decree on priestly training)

    The Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)

    The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)

  88. SimonDodd says:

    Father Fox, I have two points. The first is that when we try to interpret what a law means or a person means, we don’t try to imagine every conceivable meaning that could possibly be imputed into the text and adopt the one that we like best; we give the text the meaning that its words would ordinarily convey. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck even if one can posit other creatures that could, but do not normally, walk and quack like ducks. As I’ve said, I agree that is Francis probably best interpreted as criticizing SSPX, not people like me, but we do no one any favors to pretend that this isn’t interpretation, that that meaning is self-evident and to act shocked that other people understand his words to have the broader import that they would naturally seem to convey.

    And the second is the one that I’ve already made above. Francis has handed a weapon to the enemies of the liturgy, no matter what his intent might have been. Think back to every parish meeting you’ve ever been accused of trying to turn back the clock. Think forward to every time in the future that you might be accused of doing so. Now imagine that you’re not only accused of trying to turn back the clock, but now it comes with the exhortation “as Pope Francis said….”

    chantgirl put it very nicely above: “Is it too much to wish for a little more John the Baptist in the preaching of priests, bishops, and popes? If you’re going to call out a brood of vipers, at least be specific so that we know who the vipers are. In our media age, we can’t afford to have the Pope’s words be twisted to mean anything that any group wants them to mean.” Can any man elected pope be so naive as to not realize that what he says will be heard thoughout the world, and that what he says matters, and that there are consequences of speaking vaguely, ambiguously, or imprecisely? Benedict seemed to understand that; how often did we have to try to figure out what Benedict was saying in a feckless “off-the-cuff” homily for which no official text existed?

  89. JacobWall says:


    Let me clarify what I mean by authentic cultural expressions, since perhaps I did not make that part clear enough. For example, consider Russian Chant. This was a relatively late development from Byzantine Chant (2nd millennium). It developed as the expression of the Russian culture of the chant they learned from the Byzantines. Even Gregorian Chant, while older than Russian, was the Frankish development of Old Roman Chant, and from the older eastern chanting traditions before (which go back well before the time of Christ in their Hebrew roots.)

    Do you see what I’m talking about? Cultures can develop beautiful, valid traditions of the ancient liturgical chanting and other practices. These, however, take centuries to develop.

    When I mention that “Mexican Chant” would be a wonderful thing, I don’t mean that something that some “liturgist” sits down and writes and gets published through all the parishes as yet another silly innovation. Instead, it would be nice to see new musical traditions follow in the footsteps of Roman, Gregorian and even Russian Chant before them – a new expression of an ancient tradition. And – in an ideal world – these would not be replacing Gregorian, but rather growing from it, and replacing the same irreverent music you were talking about, that we see in so many parishes these days.

  90. OrthodoxChick says:

    Jacob Wall,

    Yes. I would count Cardinal Dolan among them. Come to think of it, if many of the American cardinals also fall into this “liturgically liberal, but otherwise conservative” category, since they form a large voting bloc, that might explain the election of Pope Francis, at least partially. Maybe they were looking for someone more like themselves?

    And I agree with you about the “visuals”. At my local N.O. parish, these folks make up at least half, if not slightly more, of the parishoners who are weekly attenders. I would even place the pastor, who is younger than this generation (a gen-X’er), in the same category.

  91. SimonDodd:

    I’m in sympathy with you, so I don’t want to aggravate you, but let me reply to each of your points.

    First: yes…but we’re not interpreting a law.

    Second: the weapon was already in the hands of folks; the pope didn’t add it. I have heard the “don’t turn back the clock” for some time. It’s hard to see how people could say it with more gusto than they already do.

    Of course, as I said already, I’d rather they weren’t able to cite the pope–but again, it doesn’t add any real force to the argument. So: I’m not saying it’s not unhelpful; I’m saying this comment doesn’t change that much.

  92. Indulgentiam says:

    @JacobWall- I apologize for indeed jumping on your statement with both feet. I hope you will forgive me.
    Your explanation went a long way towards clarifying your point. Now let me ask you a question. Wouldn’t a Mass said in one language, all over the world, be a better and more beautiful expression of unity- Catholic- universal?
    As you say “in a perfect world” but we do not have that. Too many folks forget that we humans are riddled with concupiscence, more specifically selfishness. They come up with “innovations” that look great on paper but are an unmitigated disasters in practice. All because they neglected to factor in pesky concupiscence. I dunno, I mean, can you honestly sit through a mariachi mass and still say what the Church needs is more innovation?

  93. Soporatus says:

    If dissenters embrace “turn back the clock”, won’t they be surprised when their own projects are identified as examples? Just because they claim their errors are endorsed by Vatican II, does not make it so. The Council was intended to guide us, individuals, branches, and vine toward holiness. Of course, as we know, the implementation was high-jacked. We were exasperated by Paul VI inaction; but he wrote ‘Humanae Vitae’. Some were scandalized by JPII, but he wrote ‘Sources of Renewal’ explaining the holy direction of the Council. Benedict everyone here seems to agree with. If understood with Faith in the Providential oversight of the Church, the natural (above-the-fray) interpretation of his words and deeds to date can be joyfully received as purely Catholic. [I understand the outrage and the anger — I have struggled with it for nearly 50 years.] Have confidence in Faith. Luke 1:51

  94. SimonDodd says:

    Father, I’d add the same preface that I don’t want to aggravate you, but I do think that the Pope has added to the force of the “you can’t turn back the clock” argument. Most ordinary Catholics, I think, are not too invested in the liturgy wars; they don’t follow the news all that closely and they don’t think all that deeply about the issues. But they do, I think, have an innate and natural inclination to agree with the Pope. By itself, “you can’t turn the clock back” is an enormously powerful rhetorical device, because it is absolutely true and its application to the liturgy wars just feels so innately correct. (For this reason, I’ve elsewhere suggested that we will continue to lose the war until we discover an equally-compelling rhetorical frame for the issue.) It’s facile, of course, but powerful. If one proposes chant, one will encounter the “you can’t turn the clock back” riposte, and the ordinary Catholic will be inclined to agree with that argument by itself–but if that argument is not only “you can’t turn the clock back, because, as Pope Francis says…,” the immense force of the rhetoric by itself is multiplied in the minds of an audience of ordinary Catholics by the desire to side with the Pope and what will seem to them like a papal endorsement of an argument that resonates with so-called common sense. With this one throwaway line, the Holy Father has tied a millstone around our necks, and we will never slip free of it. As I’ve said above, from now on, every time any of us proposes anything that smacks of the old days (“perhaps we should use incense?”) this line will be thrown in our faces, and it won’t make the slightest bit of difference that it is being misused.

  95. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    At this point, any time someone mentions turning the click back (whether that’s what Pope Francis said or not) I’m thinking about not going back to felt banners.

  96. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    That was suppose to read “clock” … Stupid autocorrect!

  97. jbosco88 says:

    But Father, but Father!

    How can we be sure? The Holy Spirit was foiled by man for 51 years now…

    (Serious question, not a throw-away snipe!)

  98. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Gregorian chant is the basics, and all Latin Rite church music is supposed to reflect it somewhat.

    That said, there’s nothing wrong with polyphony (and the same documents say there’s not), and there’s nothing wrong with melody, either. So yes, there could be Mexican Gregorian chant, and indeed most countries in Europe had their own variants developed over time, just like most countries in the world have their own Latin pronunciations. That doesn’t prevent you from coming back to the source, and it doesn’t denigrate regional developments and changes.

  99. catholicmidwest says:

    Katylamb, you made a very perceptive comment: “What was the point of Vatican II? What was it supposed to change? What is the growth they talk about? These are all questions that I need to answer, or try to answer, before I can hope to understand what the Holy Father is referring to here.

    A great many people didn’t understand what the documents of Vatican II were supposed to do. The real conversation over that really never occurred in most parishes, and people didn’t have the internet then so they got whatever they were given, period. Most people never read the documents or, when they did, they didn’t understand the documents. You’re not alone in this. Because the paradigm of popular Catholicism at the time of the council was prescriptive, it all came out as “change,” and not necessarily re-emphasis of mission. It’s still like that for many people, particularly those on what has since become the ideological extremes.

  100. Legisperitus says:

    Diane at Te Deum: I have the same kind of reaction, having been raised in the Novus Ordo and now, by the fathomless grace of God, belonging to a FSSP community. The Mass of Paul VI, in my experience, is the ‘old Mass’ that I would never want to go back to. Its style is as dated as a conversation pit. Tradition is the ever-new, the eternal wave of reform that points the way to the future, which is something the majority of priests in our Holy Father’s generation will never understand or accept.

    Indulgentiam: I think your device is auto-correcting the word “notional” to “national.”

  101. Legisperitus says:

    Whoops: Sorry, I meant to insert the phrase “I fear” after the word “something.”

  102. introibo says:

    Whether translated as “going back” or ”turning back the clock”, the meaning is the same. What is the change that we need to accept? Despite the titles of some of Vatican II’s documents, Paul VI said it was a pastoral council and did not define dogma. Benedict XVI said V2 was in continuity with the pre-V2 teaching. Abp. Mueller seems to imply that the whole of V2 has to be accepted as part of the faith. If there is full continuity, what is the change we need to accept? Fr. Brian Harrison says, if I understand him right, that part of V2’s teaching is that heretics have a right not to be prevented from expressing their faith in public. This, along with many things which came to the fore during and after V2, would indeed seem to be novelty, which the Popes before V2 warned against. What exactly is the change we are to accept? Yes indeed Wolfeken, after 50 years, wouldn’t it be great if the Pope could define precisely how V2 is in continuity with Tradition, and how its many ambiguities must be interpreted? Ecumenism is a big theme. But we seldom hear what the goal of it is. “I’m O.K. and you’re O.K” is what we usually hear. Cardinal Leveda, however, did acknowledge that the goal of ecumenism is at least supposed to be conversion to the one true Church of Christ (sorry Cardinal Kasper). But we almost never hear this. Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. The case can be made that the SSPX ought to submit to the Pope and sign the Vatican’s declaration. But I can’t help but wonder if the Nuns on the Bus will have to sign a declaration in order to “remain in full communion”. As far as I know they haven’t had to during all these decades of their agitation. Who is more in line with the Magisterium? Just thinking. 50 years after V2 we have a Church in shambles, as Benedict XVI said. Even Cardinal Kasper has now said we are not in spring, we are in winter! And we are still debating what V2 actually said. What is the needed change that V2 brought about?

  103. persyn says:

    So lets go FORWARD. And build up the EF, brick by brick. Let’s NOT go back to the tearing down of Tradition and to Kumbayah puppet liturgies that are now rare thanks to the past 8 years. Forward, I say, forward. Brick. By. Brick.

  104. JacobWall says:


    Exactly! Many variations and developments are simply not worth keeping. Going back to the source helps to “weed out” the less worthwhile variations from the more worthwhile ones – which have developed or can develop as good tradition of their own. I don’t think going back to Gregorian Chant should be hoped for as the elimination of all else, but it should be seen as the measure of all else. Putting any more recent development side by side with Gregorian Chant would quickly reveal its beauty or ugliness. Most of what we’ve had over the past decades simply doesn’t measure up in any way whatsoever. But that’s not to say that something new couldn’t develop that comes close.

  105. Chrysologus says:

    This is a helpful analysis, though I don’t think we should consider the pope’s words as referring exclusively to the SSPX types, but a bit more broadly to those who resist all change within the Church. Some change is impossible; some change is possible. “To live in this world is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” (Blessed John Henry Newman).

  106. countrylily says:

    I guess for me I am so confused and really don’t know what to think of Pope Francis I pray for him everyday. I feel like he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. I am just plain confused. He is firmly attached to Vatican II and the post-Conciliar spirit and reforms. This was shown in his first inter-religious meeting the day after his inauguration as Pope. He meet with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration, Francis twice repeated the following phrase: “The Catholic Church knows the importance of promoting friendship and respect among men and women of different religious traditions.” He also stated: “From my side I wish to ensure you my firm will to continue the path of ecumenical dialogue, which the (Second Vatican) Council initiated.” He did say a lot more which to me was very.. I don’t know… Liberal/Ecumenical mixed with a bit of supernatural. I am just wondering where are the comments that he made a few days earlier at his first papal Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during the homily to the cardinal electors, when he quoted French writer Leon Bloy: “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil” and then he said: “When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.” How are we not to be confused? St. Paul’s dictum says “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all” (1 Cor. 9:22). Instead, to the weak I also become weak, and so lose all!

  107. anna 6 says:

    I don’t know…is it really a great idea to be doing these ferverino’s so frequently? I am getting weary of being in a confused state.

    I thought that one of the biggest curial dysfunctions and obstacles to the “New Evangelization” had to do with the Vatican’s problems of communication. If Pope Francis is going to focus more on these off-the-cuff commentaries than the more formal speeches, encyclicals and Papal statements in the style of previous Popes, than please, forget the G-8, HIRE SOME MORE TRANSLATORS… have some more consistency in Vatican Radio language departments, and stop paraphrasing his homilies (that goes for CNS too.)

    I am exhausted.

  108. JMody says:

    A few lines to counter the simple lines and the conclusions being spun from them:
    What did Bl. Cardinal Newman say about growth and tradition? As with the body, slow and natural, and almost imperceptible, that what we see today obviously grew from what was before — like, say, your children growing from infants to children to young adults — whereas the sudden appearance of something very different from what came before is probably not good, as in the body when a cancer appears. So in that sense, moving forward can be growing, or it can be a cancerous lesion.
    And what did Chesterton say about about keeping open minds? “The point of opening the mind, as in opening the mouth, is hopefully to close it on something solid and wholesome” or WTE?

    I am puzzled by the incapacity to admit that a Council may be legitimate and that does not mean that it could possibly yield no valuable result. Every time someone mentions that Ratzinger himself commented that most councils have to be acknowledged as a WASTE OF TIME, that mentioner is shouted down and hurried from the room.
    I am also puzzled that nobody is suspicious that the English coverage/translations may very well be suffering from an agenda by a partisan in the Liturgy Wars. It would seem to me, by comments above that the Italian and English coverage are so different, that this would be a leading possibility.
    And I am shocked that some would insinuate (and maybe they didn’t, it’s just me being overly suspicious) that there is an equivalence between LCWR and SSPX. Both clearly have issues with obedience, but one clearly prays for the Pope, acknowledges seven sacraments, encourages holiness, and believes things that all our grandparents would have believed and recognized as “Catholic”. Put another way — imagine one of these two factions manages to woo the Curia and overthrow the current regime, and put “their man” on the throne of Peter at the next Conclave, siezing all the levers of power for the next two centuries. One of these may represent what Francis meant by a step backwards. But the other has “moved beyond Church” and beyond Jesus, and would be a cataclysm.

  109. Gratias says:

    The weekday Mass at the Domus Sanctae Martae did not have any homily at all. Pope Francisco liked its V2 atmosphere and adopted this 7:00 am mass as his communication vehicle. Reading this thread demonstrates that the communication style of the new Pope is a disaster.

    The Traditional sheep have been cast aside. It is not that we are fools trying to turn the clock back. We drive many hours just to attend an EF Mass because the Catholic Church is the center of our life. We will go back to the catacombs if needed. Pope Francisco has no sensitivity towards our way of thinking because in Buenos Aires he suppressed the application of Summorum Pontificum with great vigor.

    Please pray that Papa Francisco will keep Summorum Pontificum as the law of the Church. Even more importantly, pray that this innovating Pope does not call a Vatican III council. That would be a terrible fate for our Church.

  110. Rachel K says:

    Hmm, going with Fr Martin on this one. I think we need to think outside the box. This is not about liberal or traditional, it is about each of us asking ourselves, are we resisting the Holy Spirit in our own lives and souls? This is not polarising stuff, the most important bit about Vat II is that the emphasis was shifted from a laity who waited to be told what they could and couldn’t do, to one which was better formed and there is more individual responsibility taken for personal holiness (one’s own spiritual journey) and that of those around us (ie, evangelisation by each of us of those we meet). That’s what I have got from my formation, post VII.
    I see a danger, articulated to me by a much older friend who lived the changes of the Council, that there can be two camps; broadly, those who are doctrinally and liturgically driven and who maybe neglect a bit the practical loving, reaching out bit, and a liberal camp, not that interested in liturgy, thinking anything goes, as long as they can be friendly, kind to their neighbour. She emphasised that we can actually learn from one another. We need both bits! There is value in the strength of those who are a bit neglectful of doctrine and discipline, which is their concern for warmth and friendship as a priority. People are reached to hear the gospel through personal, warm, friendly interaction, not necessarily in a liturgical setting.
    Pope John Paul once said, “the Law of gradualness is not the same as gradualness of the law”.
    Good point! We cannot move the goalposts, but people are at all points along the road to the goals, and we start journeying with them where they are. I see liturgy and the discipline and doctrines of the Church as tools for our own personal spiritual growth so that we can evangelise others. They are not the end in itself. Yes, these tools or food need to feed us and equip us well, not leave us half nourished. But at the end of Mass we now hear more than “the Mass is ended” ; we are commissioned to “go in peace to love and serve The Lord”. I think Pope Francis is asking about this, not about the detail and structure which serves this.

  111. OK, this is going to be long and not as dispassionate as piety requires. But here goes.
    The Pope said, “But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the council told us to do?”
    The short answer is YES, Holy Father. But not everything “pastorally” taught by the 16 essay-styled documents of the council are inspired by the Holy Ghost.
    Let me bloviate for a moment.
    This idea that the Holy Ghost inspired John XXIII to call a world-wide ecumenical council is problematic.
    Pope John only wanted something slightly grander than a Roman synod (a meeting of those prelates primarily concerned with the church in Italy). This is just a plain fact of history. Pope Roncalli died during the council, leaving periti like Monsignor Gommar DePauw to conclude (1) it [Roncalli’s death] was a sign of Divine disfavor; and (2) because of this, the council should have been immediately abandoned.

    Pope John Paul II, moved by no modest level of hubris declared some shocking opinions about the Council, especially as regards the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He exalted the Council as a Second Pentecost, what Canon Hesse rightly denounced as a dogmatic impossibility and abandoning all restraint, taught outrageous things such as the quote below from his encyclical Redemptor hominis:

    “Entrusting myself fully to the Spirit of truth, therefore, I am entering into the rich inheritance of the recent pontificates. This inheritance has struck deep roots in the awareness of the Church in an utterly new way, quite unknown previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII convened …”

    We see here that Pope John Paul II is attempting to ascribe to the Holy Ghost what his worthy predecessors (before John XXIII) condemned as novelty – the work of men, if not the devil – in an astonishing effrontery that borders on blasphemy.

    The “forward” idea comes not from Christ (please show me in Sacred Scripture where this idea of ‘forward’ exists) but from Marx via Teilhard de Chardin. De Chardin, whom many erudite Catholic theologians hold as an heresiarch, and at the very least an unrepentant pantheist and arch-Modernist synthesized what he described as “the God of upward” (Christ) with “the god of forward” (Marx). This ‘forward’ is based on the most carnal and grotesque ideas of evolutionism and has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.

    If Pope John Paul II was able to tie the Evolutionist theories of Teilhard to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then DeLubac’s error about the supernatural has assumed a magisterial significance – again, a dogmatic impossibility.
    Teilhard taught that spirit evolves from matter – heresy, abject and gross heresy, and the complete and total rejection not only of Scholastic theology but all theology not rooted in Hegel’s dialectics and Teilhard’s crass pantheism.

    The idea that the Holy Ghost is the author of a complete divorce from 2000 years of Catholic Tradition is not only impious, it is bordering on blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, the unpardonable sin. Whatever Pope Francis means by ‘forward’, if it is grounded at all, even peripherally in DeLubac’s confusion of nature and supernature, in Wojtyla’s universalism, in Teilhard’s march to Point Omega, it is to be rejected by the faithful, beginning with the Cardinals who elected him.

    He may speak of the cross, the blood of the Redeemer, the devil and display amazing signs of humility – but if this Pope is citing Vatican II as some inspiration of the Holy Ghost to go ‘forward’ – as in beyond what has been handed down and dogmatically defined – then the time has arrived for the council to be dogmatically tested and even rejected on the grounds of ever-mounting evidences that whatever it is or purported to be, it can NOT be said to be the work of the Holy Ghost. For to make the Holy Ghost the author of confusion, apostasy, decline and rebellion is an outrage only superseded by rejecting that which He has already safeguarded in the Roman Catholic Church for 2000 years.

  112. Pope Francis:
    “Submit to the Holy Spirit,” he said, “which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.”

    Oh my.
    The Holy Ghost comes from heaven, from without us, and makes His abode in believing, obedient hearts.

    Perhaps this too was lost in translation? Because it disturbingly fits the immanentist construct of Nouvelle Theologie alluded to in my post above about Teilhard/DeLubac/Wojtyla.

    I do wish to be wrong about this!

  113. Per Signum Crucis says:

    @Orthodox Chick,

    I think you’ve hit a really good point differentiating between the Traditional Mass and Traditional culture: one isn’t the same as the other. It seems to me the challenge is to recognise there are two camps, those who always had the EF and either easily revert to it or denounce it for the sort of reasons your mom does, and those who never had the EF and who struggle (as I occasionally do) to see it for the beautiful expression of the Sacrifice of the Mass that it can be. This struggle isn’t helped by the resources (or “visuals”) available. I know there is the LMS reprint but that is all it is – a reprint. Something more relevant to the expectations of today is needed, as much for education of those who want to be more faithful as for practicality. Otherwise the EF is reduced to little more than a devotional practice for the hard-core; no doubt there are some who think this is the most appropriate place for it.

    On the bigger picture of reading Francis through Benedict, though, count me with Fr.Z and those counselling open minds and patience.

  114. Lori Pieper says:

    Catholic Johnny writes:

    I do wish to be wrong about this!

    Don’t worry. I would say without any doubt that you are wrong. Now maybe you can start to breathe again.

    Your connecting threads between anything JPII or Francis have said and heresy are mighty thin. God forbid that any of us should accidentally use the word “forward” in a sentence sometime — we will no doubt immediately be accused of adopting the heresy of de Chardin!

    You can find the concept of “forward” in Scripture, if you think about it. Jesus tells us that no one can come to the Father but through him. He also tells us that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the the way, the road, the path to God. Now how else do we go along a path except forward? Do you expect to get to God by going backward? Or flying above the path? If so, then why have a path at all? Why try to give this a heretical meaning when there is a very obvious orthodox one?

    And for the rest, I think we can assume that Pope Francis is not an idiot and does know his theology. He knows that the Spirit comes from to us from the Father and dwells in us. HOWEVER, once we do have the Spirit in our hearts, he can act from within, helping to direct our actions, pushing us forward. (Oh no, there’s that bad word again!). Jesus tells us the Spirit will give us the very words we are to say when on trial. . . I would think that everyone would know the second bit of Catholic teaching as well as the first.

    No, your immediate reaction is to suspect heresy. I’m not trying to be unkind here, but you desperately need that paper bag Father talked about.

  115. veritasmeister says:

    Introibi and Catholic Johnny, very good posts. You see the problems and discontinuities as well as the fact that there are no solid answers nor hermeneutics at hand. Keep studying, keep praying, and keep asking the questions.

  116. Pingback: On the Second Vatican Council and the Holy Spirit | Foolishness to the world

  117. Lori,
    You are mistaken, I am afraid.

    Dietrich von Hildebrand (in Trojan Horse in the City of God) quotes Teilhard’s own words: “As I love to say, the synthesis of the Christian God (of the above) and of the Marxist god (of the forward)-behold! that is the only god whom henceforth we can adore in spirit and in truth.” Von Hildebrand comments: “In this sentence the abyss separating Teilhard from Christianity is manifest in every word.”

    You must not be acquainted with DeLubac’s Surnaturel, else you wouldn’t so flippantly dismiss the linkages I mentioned. DeLubac, whom JP II made a Cardinal, was Teilhard’s #1 defender. DeLubac is the recipient of much of Pius XII’s rebuke in Humani generis.

    ‘Forward’, as it is colloquially known in Liberation Theology would not be outside a lexicon known by a South American Jesuit who ministered in the 1970s and 80s. You attempt to reduce this Marxist code word to a Biblical reference and this is tenuous. Christ is not referring to ‘forward’ in any of the ways you suggest here.

    And unless you are conversant with the Nouvelle Theologie and its vehicle Ressourcement movement, you would of course offer me a bag. This was a theological current that developed underground during the suppression of the Modernists between the World wars, and rejected Thomism and Thomist metaphysics in preference for an Evolutionary (Hegelian) metaphysic. Pope Pius XII denounces this in no uncertain terms in Humani generis. The same theologians of the Ressourcement movement were elevated to the status of periti at Vatican II, and proceded to draft all new schemas for the council after the Rhine Group insisted that the 72 schemas drafted by the Roman preparatory committee be discarded.

    ‘Forward’ in the way the Pope is using it is very worthy of scrutiny, Lori.

    As for the comment about the Holy Ghost, I know the doctrine of the church, and that after one receives the Holy Ghost He indwells us, but in the English translation, that is not what the Pope is saying. And in the Nouvelle Theologie, all have the Holy Ghost within, which is the error of immanentism.

  118. The Masked Chicken says:

    I’m going with the Ferengi 22nd Rule of Aquisition: A wise man can hear profit in the wind.

    I’m opening a paper bag shop!

    The Chicken

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  119. wmeyer says:

    I think that the hysteria in some quarters is simply a sign of these dark times in which we find ourselves. It suggests that some are on the brink of committing the sin of despair.

    It is difficult to get excited over the parsing of this translation. After all, when we see all the trouble which has followed the various translations of the Mass–a much more deliberate and scholarly job–the relatively casual translation of this one statement could easily be misunderstood.

    My trust is in the Lord. Our Church endures. For the future of any country, we were given no guarantee.

  120. Phil_NL says:

    My dear Chicken,

    Just remember number 82 as well : “The flimsier the product, the higher the price.”

    And if all goes belly up, well…. “Win or lose, there’s always Hupyrian beetle snuff. (#65)”

  121. onosurf says:

    ‘”The stiff-necked” Francis is speaking about are the SSPXers.’

    Oh boy. This is either a joke are you are in serious denial.

    This statement should give any Traditionalist heartburn, even if you are correct. SSPX is bad because they won’t eat the VII poison pill? Neither has the “stiff necked” FSSP & ICKSP!

  122. TRADS: Get a grip.

    Do NOT… do NOT… conflate Fr. Z’s thought with what Fr. Z thinks Francis is thinking.


    I think Francis is talking about SSPXers.

    I don’t care if you don’t like that idea. He may be right or he may be wrong, but I think he was talking about SSPXers.

  123. Andrew says:

    Fr. Z:

    It seems to me that perhaps His Holiness is speaking about everybody: those on the left and those on the right. Certainly the preceding comment does not fit the SSPX: “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us.” (Festeggiamo questo anniversario, facciamo un monumento, ma che non dia fastidio.) Does the SSPX celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II? Surely not! But they might be understood as the ones “wanting to walk back”. But in the absence of specifics, it is best to view the comment in general terms: discipleship is a challenge for all.

  124. SimonDodd says:

    Gratias says: “Pope Francisco has no sensitivity towards our way of thinking because in Buenos Aires he suppressed the application of Summorum Pontificum with great vigor.” Is there any evidence—I have seen none—that Card. Bergoglio suppressed SP? N.b. “not actively helping” =/= “suppression”; “it didn’t happen” =/= “suppression.” I’m well-aware, of course, of the story about how there was only one and it was problematic, but simple recitation of that story doesn’t prove what the reciters tend to think. Without more, without some indication that Bergoglio actually tried to cripple it, it could mean anything. It might just as well prove that no one in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires had the slightest interest in attending the TLM; it might just as well prove that Bergoglio had as little interest in liturgy then as he does now and left the entire matter in the hands of other men who were hostile to the TLM.

    I just don’t see any active, conscious opposition to the TLM in Bergoglio/Francis—he is not a friend, to be sure, but if he is an enemy, it is only by default in the sense that he will do nothing to advance a cause that requiers active pressure. My impression is that he doesn’t care about the liturgy in the slightest, and to the extent he thinks about it at all is happy with that with which he’s familiar. That’s a damning enough indictment, I think, without piling on hyperventilation about supposed (and seemingly fabricated) hostility to the TLM.

  125. wolfeken says:

    The sad part of this latest mess is that it resembles all of the discussions I remember during the JPII years. No one has any earthly idea what the pope’s vague words mean, but the center-right are convinced he is God-like, and thus traditionalists citing Tradition are jerks. Whatever comes from the pope and his curia is Divine.

    And then the SSPX bishops, which resulted in Ecclesia Dei. And then the abuse crisis, where the center-right started to be suspicious of the mortal men they marched in lock step to. And then Benedict gave us eight years of conservative and traditional-leaning restorations, including Summorum Pontificum causing the center-right to move further right. Benedict went so far as to technically declare JPII in error, twice: 1) that the TLM was never abrogated and thus never needed an indult; and 2) that the SSPX bishops, who did not change any of their positions after 1988, were not excommunicated after all.

    Now the center-right has moved back to the 1980s, including lambasting those mean, nasty “TRADS.” I often wonder what it is the center-right actually believes, other than the pope is always right even if he breaks the law, praises revolution and pushes for more of the failed innovations of the 1960s and 1970s.

    It’s one thing if the center-right would stay silent or focus on other, more positive things (i.e. New Liturgical Movement’s approach). But it is really troubling to witness the center-right hear the pope say anyone who wants pre-Vatican II Tradition is a fool, while somehow saying he really didn’t say that. Credibility = shot.

  126. Sixupman says:

    I certainly want to go back!

    To a time when Mother Church operated multiple seminaries, which were full and Religious Houses equally full. When each parish had both Parish Priests and Curates.

    I am surrounded by large churches, with large presbyteries – all largely redundant in size.

    I want to go back to Catholicism taught in schools.

    What we now have is a gift of Vatican II and not The Holy Spirit – give me a break!

  127. catholicmidwest says:

    No, Chicken, it’s not ONLY that someone hijacked the microphone. The problem is that people on both sides of the microphone totally misunderstood the communication, but everybody thought they had to do something and so they punted. And in doing so, got it all wrong. Luckily there is the grace of God that will ensure that this doesn’t go on forever.

    Vatican II was never about prescriptive religion, but that’s how everyone understood it at the time, and how most people still understand it. The reason for this is that most Catholics understood their religion in 1965 primarily as a prescriptive thing, and many still regard it that way. Meaning: Do this and don’t do that; it should look like this and it should look like that; here’s how you do this and here’s how you do that. This is a hangover from the Post-Reformation period. Read the documents with an open mind and you will see that the “re-arranging the furniture” of the Church was never the point of the documents; conversion to Christ the Lord and the Gospel was the point. Even in the places where the documents asked for literal changes in religious life and so on, they were only trying to bring wanderers back to the original reason religion life exists: Christ the Lord and the Gospel.

    The changes never existed in the documents for their own sakes, nor for the sakes of pleasing some political gang within the Church who wanted this or that prescriptive thing. Vatican II isn’t about all the things its greatest haters and lovers claim for it, and this is the great irony of Vatican II.

  128. onosurf says:

    Tradition and VII cannot co-exist.

    BXVI was a post-VII anomaly. What he proposed was cognitive dissonance and both sides knew it, those in the middle didn’t figure out that truth and error cannot co-exist.

    Regarding Pope Francis’ recent statement, you may be correct, today it may be just the SSPX. But tomorrow…

    Time will tell.

  129. onosurf says:


    Tradition and VII errors cannot co-exist. There were Truths in VII.

  130. JonPatrick says:

    If going back refers to the SSPX I think we have to be careful about what aspect of the SSPX that is “backward-looking” it is referring to. The fact that the SSPX exclusively uses the TLM (Extraordinary Form) cannot be the issue as teh Church through Summorum Pontificum has declared it a valid form of the Latin Rite and Pope Francis has not indicated he intends to chaneg this, no matter what his personal liturgical preference may be.

    Perhaps the real issue is that the SSPX as is the case with some traditional Catholics seem to be still stuck in the counter-Reformation, for example the objections over Diginitatis Humanae and ecumenism, as though the world was still composed primarily of Catholic monarchies and therefore we must fight any tendency to legitimize any other religious expression. Whereas in fact the world is composed almost overwhelmingly of secular and Islamic governments with Catholics in many cases a minority in those countries or at least treated as one. I think Vatican 2 was at least in part an attempt to come to grips with the new reality. Now in many cases the “spirit of V2” took us too far, for example Ecumenism in some cases became dangerously close to indifferentism. However, it is legitimate to recognize that all faith traditions contain some degree of the truth and perhaps that can be the basis for mutual respect which in the long run might lead toward evangelizing them, which pulling up the drawbridge and shouting Exta Ecclesiam Nullus Salus will not.

  131. catholicmidwest says:

    The problem and the beauty of Catholicism is at the same time the difficulty here with understanding the prescriptive way many Catholics understand their religion (as opposed to descriptive and beyond). Catholicism has a great and powerful underlying feature: the Incarnational Principle, meaning that God always speaks to us through the things we know and can touch: the Sacraments which are tangible, the Bible which is in words, other people who we can know personally. How do you engage a serious conversation of any sort in Catholicism without using the physical things we have, the things that touch people like that? Indeed, when Catholicism has passed through an epoch and another one looms, how do you ever initiate a conversion among Catholics? This is the question that the fathers of Vatican II faced, unwittingly or not.

    Ostensibly, there is nothing wrong with the “furniture” of the Church in itself, and never has been. Beauty and order are good things and lead some people quite directly to God. Vatican II could have changed nothing about the “furniture” of the Church and attained its goal, except for the fact that we have this great Incarnational Principle that means that “Word and Deed” always go together. This is why we have great epochs in the Church: the age of the Fathers, the age of Monasticism, the age of the Medieval Reformers, the Age of the Post-Reformation and so on, accompanied by all their saints and resulting structures.

    Vatican II called for a deepening of the Faith, a movement beyond the prescriptions of Post-Reformation Catholicism, without disrupting the all-important Incarnational Principle upon which much of the theology of the Church stands. Profound confusion between the two, the right understanding of the Incarnational Principle and the move beyond prescription which had become museum-like and acquistitive, is the problem that the council fathers faced and the problem we still face; it’s the objection most people who object are still making. It’s even the mistake that the most wacky left-wing dissidents still make, even though they are on the other political side of the confusion than many more “conservative” Catholics are. This is why we appear at the present time to be sort of “stuck,” in the West at least.

    Two-thirds of the Catholic Church is now found in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Much of this territory is outside the West culturally, and here is where Christianity is growing fastest. Why? Because when they understand the Gospel, they see it as it is, not through the great Post-Reformation screen of meaning that we have in the West, which has become exhausted and ineffective. The Post-Reformation is finally over.

    Catholicism is timeless, necessarily happening in time because of the Incarnational Principle and our nature, but at the same time, transcending time and things because the Incarnational Principle speaks of nothing other than God. This can be clearly seen everywhere, and is very present in both Tradition and Scripture. I’m thinking precisely of the many times St. Paul spoke of the two things together. We have got to come to understand this more clearly in the West so that we can go forward in more confidence with the grace of God.

    Make no mistake, this about conversion. This is why these great epoch changes in the Church have always been accompanied by clusters of great saints: Benedict of Nursia, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola. But this time, it’s not special charmed individuals that are expected. No, we are supposed to convert and put ourselves on the way of discipleship to the Lord. Catholicism is not a spectator sport. That’s the deepest meaning of the Incarnational Principle.

  132. jhayes says:

    In the interest of reading Frncis through Zbenedict, note that in his reflections on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, Benedict praised Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate

    “Unexpectedly, the encounter with the great themes of the modern epoch did not happen in the great Pastoral Constitution, but instead in two minor documents, whose importance has only gradually come to light in the context of the reception of the Council. First, there is the Declaration on Religious Liberty, which was urgently requested, and also drafted, by the American Bishops in particular. With developments in philosophical thought and in ways of understanding the modern State, the doctrine of tolerance, as worked out in detail by Pius XII, no longer seemed sufficient. At stake was the freedom to choose and practise religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given its inner foundation, such a concept could not be foreign to the Christian faith, which had come into being claiming that the State could neither decide on the truth nor prescribe any kind of worship. The Christian faith demanded freedom of religious belief and freedom of religious practice in worship, without thereby violating the law of the State in its internal ordering; Christians prayed for the emperor, but did not worship him. To this extent, it can be said that Christianity, at its birth, brought the principle of religious freedom into the world. Yet the interpretation of this right to freedom in the context of modern thought was not easy, since it could seem as if the modern version of religious freedom presupposed the inaccessibility of the truth to man and so, perforce, shifted religion into the sphere of the subjective. It was certainly providential that thirteen years after the conclusion of the Council, Pope John Paul II arrived from a country in which freedom of religion had been denied by Marxism, in other words by a particular form of modern philosophy of the State. The Pope had come, as it were, from a situation resembling that of the early Church, so that the inner orientation of the faith towards the theme of freedom, and especially freedom of religion and worship, became visible once more.

    The second document that was to prove important for the Church’s encounter with the modern age came into being almost by chance and it developed in various phases. I am referring to the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. At the outset the intention was to draft a declaration on relations between the Church and Judaism, a text that had become intrinsically necessary after the horrors of the Shoah. The Council Fathers from Arab countries were not opposed to such a text, but they explained that if there were an intention to speak of Judaism, then there should also be some words on Islam. How right they were, we in the West have only gradually come to understand. Lastly the realization grew that it was also right to speak of two other great religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – as well as the theme of religion in general. Then, following naturally, came a brief indication regarding dialogue and collaboration with the religions, whose spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural values were to be respected, protected and encouraged (ibid., 2). Thus, in a precise and extraordinarily dense document, a theme is opened up whose importance could not be foreseen at the time. The task that it involves and the efforts that are still necessary in order to distinguish, clarify and understand, are appearing ever more clearly. In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.”


  133. catholicmidwest says:

    We must come to understand that deeply and truly, there was no rupture at Vatican II, and the reasons why that can be said are not prescriptive in nature. This was the point of my previous post. There is no reason why we can’t keep all the things that serve the mission, that attract people to God, and that drive conversion and love for God, including many of the lovely things we know. But these things must serve the mission, for the mission that Christ gave the Church is the point of the Church.

  134. Denis says:


    Very insightful comments on the “center-right,” thank you, though I wonder whether the center-right were really supportive of Benedict. Some of them–e.g. Weigel–seem to have been gritting their teeth through the last papacy, and now their real views are showing. Of course, maybe people like Weigel aren’t really what you mean by center-right.

  135. John of Chicago says:

    I am very intrigued by Catholic Johnny’s citation (at 2:21 am today) of the renowned Msgr. Gommar DePauw in which DePauw states: “(1) it [Roncolli’s death] was a sign of Divine disfavor; and (2) because of this, the Council should have been immediately abandoned.” Based upon this innovative theological principle, the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) should have been abandoned immediately in 1549 at the death of Pope Paul III and, if not then, certainly after the Pope dies again with Julius III’s demise in 1555.

    Clearly, if only the Council Fathers at Trent had followed Msgr. DePauw’s maxim there would have been no need for Vatican II and we’d be spared all this current controversy.

  136. introibo says:

    Thank you Fr. Z. and Andrew for your latest comments. And thanks also Andrew for your quotes from Sacrosanctum Concilium. Wasn’t it stated in SC that there were to be no changes unless the good of the faithful necessarily required them?!

  137. veritasmeister says:

    Wolfeken: as one who is no huge fan of any of our recent popes, I, nonetheless cannot agree with your twin claims that Pope Benedict XVI found Pope John Paul II to be in error. Even assuming the TLM was never formally ‘abrogated’, that does not preclude TLM having been placed into restricted use and requiring an indult. Also, Pope Benedict XVI never said that no excommunication had been leveled at SSPX bishops, he simply lifted it twenty one years after the fact.

    Catholicmidwest: it really doesn’t matter what animated the changes or that the real motive was to more effectively invite people to the Gospel. One doesn’t thrash a few rooms in the house in order to make the house more inviting to outsiders.

    JonPatrick: there really is no such thing as being stuck in the counterReformation. Catholic teaching is Catholic teaching, and it’s not grounded in situational relativism. True, most governments today are secular or Islamic. That doesn’t change Catholic teaching any more than the fact that nearly all Western governments have legal abortion, and many or most of them have or are clearly on the path toward legally recognized same-sex marriage mean that the Church gets to change its teachings in these areas as a gambit to be more relevant or to come to terms with a new situation. Separation of church and state is an official authoritatively condemned proposition, infallibly so according to the classical doctrinal precepts of Franzelin.

  138. maryh says:

    Well, so far what Pope Francis says seems to clear to me (for some reason, what he says seems to resonate with me).

    There are those who think they’ve already implemented Vatican II and just want to erect a monument to it. Those are the liberals. The liberals think we’re ‘there’, we’re ‘done’, and that all we have to do is keep the Trads from messing it all up. Well, Pope Francis tells them they aren’t done, they haven’t gotten it right yet, and reminds them that Vatican II is in continuity with what went before.

    There are those who want to write off everything that came from Vatican II and go back to everything the way it was before. Those are the SSPX-types. Well, they’ve got to recognize that the Holy Spirit actually did speak through Vatican II. And given his continuity with Benedict, we know he doesn’t think Vat II changed any dogma.

    So, as before, a pox on both your houses. And for some reason, apparently both the libs and the trads are only seeing the slam on the trads.

    And the final summation, about “taming” the Holy Spirit, applies to both those of the liberals who build a monument to Vatican II, while ignoring what it said, just as people built grand tombs to the prophets and ignored what they said; and to those of the trads who ignore the working of the Holy Spirit in the council altogether and want to return everything to the way it was before.

  139. The Masked Chicken says:

    “So, as before, a pox on both your houses.”

    Oh, for the day when that will be a pax on both your houses, sigh.

    The Chicken

  140. catholicmidwest says:

    To be very clear, the point of Vatican II was not a rupture with Catholic Tradition and the Deposit of Faith. Actually it was quite the opposite. Rather it was a rupture with the Counter-Reformation way of practicing the faith, which is not necessarily equal, in the all-inclusive sense, with the faith as you can see if you realize that before the Post-Reformation, the Church existed for more than 1500 years.

    Salvation history itself tells us that it was possible to be fully Catholic before the Reformation ever occurred, which tells us that although we have the Counter-Reformation period as part of salvation history now, it can be followed by other epochs precisely just as the pre-Reformation period was. This is not a poverty. This is where the concrete and practical beauty and the bounty of the Church’s earthly face comes from. As time has passed we have received great gifts: we have the depth and profundity of the Fathers of the Church from their period; we have the beauty and stability of the monasteries from their period of prominence; we have the ardor of the mendicants from their period of prominence; we have the memory of Cluny from its period; we have the great missionary activity of the Jesuits in Asia from that period. All this, and more, are good things from the hands of God, and we have to learn to see it that way.

  141. robtbrown says:

    Catholic Johnny,

    1. JPII was never formally trained as a theologian. He had the usual seminary theology. Afterwards, it was mostly a matter of personal reading, which included, perhaps even to the point of being centered on, De Lubac.

    2. I think it’s important to point out that the Society of Jesus was founded after the Middle Ages, during what is sometimes referred to as the Baroque Age. Their theology, during their years of flourishing, always reflected this. Scholastic, yes, but following the thought of Suarez rather than St Thomas. The foundation of St Thomas’ thought is the Real Distinction, which was almost universally rejected by Jesuits. In somma, the metaphysics of St Thomas was rejected by most Jesuits long before La Nouvelle Theologie and Ressourcement.

    If you want a Medieval comparison, the theology of the Counter Reformation period had more in common with Scotus than it did with St Thomas.

    3. I read several books by DeLubac, incl Mystery of the Supernatural, written to try to explain what he meant in Le Surnaturel. I agree that he had a progressive streak, but I would not place him in the same category as Teilhard.

    4. The problem with La Nouvelle Theologie was that it was usually a combination of certain writings of the Fathers (good) with 20th century philosophy (not so good). JRatzinger pointed out that similar problems exist with many who endorse Ressourcement–they conveniently forget about the Middle Ages. By definition, true Ressourcement cannot exclude the thought of St Thomas.

    5. As noted above, JPII was influenced by De Lubac when he says that any non-Christian religion containing truth is a manifestation of grace. IMHO, this assumes an almost Protestant understanding that original sin wrecked human nature to the point of denying the possibility that by reason alone someone can know, e.g., that the soul is immortal.

    6. Just because the pope says the Holy Spirit comes from within doesn’t mean that he adopts Teilhard’s confusion of the orders of grace and nature.

    BTW, Teilhard is buried in the back of the Culinary Institute of America, once an SJ novitiate.

  142. catholicmidwest says:

    Catholic Johnny,
    Be very careful here with equating a linear forward directionality with Teilhard, who was idiosyncratic and best and heretical at his worst. Salvation history itself is forward-facing and linear, rather than cyclic as the pagan world is. This is a basic principle for understanding Judaism and Christianity itself, and Scripture and Tradition make a huge point of it. It’s in Genesis with the creation stories; it’s in the book of John with the wonderful prologue about the Word; it’s in Matthew where the mission of the Church is given, and the tribulations of the end of the world are told. Christianity has a purpose and a story, one that goes from a beginning when God created the world ex nihilo, from nothing, to the end when it is consumed and given its final judgment.

  143. catholicmidwest says:

    Veritasmeister, you said, “..it really doesn’t matter what animated the changes or that the real motive was to more effectively invite people to the Gospel. One doesn’t thrash a few rooms in the house in order to make the house more inviting to outsiders.”

    That’s not what I said at all. This is as much or more about Catholics as about anyone else. The Counter-Reformation has ended whether we like it or not, and it’s now time to catch up or get left.

  144. Lori Pieper says:

    Johnny Catholic, once again, if you are going to accuse someone of heresy, then at least give some reason to connect his words, not just his background, to heretical thinking. As a Jesuit in Latin America, he was known for his stern opposition to liberation theology. Using that as a backup is mighty weak. I have yet to hear any analysis on rational grounds for your accusations.

    It’s pretty useless to discuss this any more, if you’re going to continue like that.

  145. catholicmidwest says:

    Veritasmeister, you said, “there really is no such thing as being stuck in the counterReformation. Catholic teaching is Catholic teaching, and it’s not grounded in situational relativism.”

    Putting everything in terms of the Counter-Reformation is, in itself, a form of situational relativism. I doubt that even most of the citizens of the Counter-Reformation thought of it in the way that its loudest proponents do now. They were not minimalists of an objective sort as post-moderns overwhelmingly tend to be, and unfortunately to some degree we are all post-moderns nowadays whether we like it or not. It’s why we have to think long and hard about these things.

  146. Lori Pieper says:


    ” JPII was never formally trained as a theologian. He had the usual seminary theology. Afterwards, it was mostly a matter of personal reading, which included, perhaps even to the point of being centered on, De Lubac.”

    I’ve no idea where you got this notion. Karol Wojtyla received his doctorate in theology at the Angelicum in Rome in 1948, as all his biographies state. He wrote his dissertation on St. John of the Cross. He later continued his theological studies in Poland to get what’s called in European universities a “rehabilitation” degree, which allows you to teach at the large universities.

    Is that formal training enough for you?

  147. gary cifra says:

    Disciplinary level Vs. Doctrinal level regarding Excommunication.
    I think this is the appropriate counter-reply, that should have been sent to Cardinal Wuerl after his comment that [we don’t use the Eucharist as a disciplinary measure]. To deny Polozzi and Biden communion is based on a Doctrinal level, the consequence of which is excommunication and therefore the denial of communion.

    Regarding the SSPX:
    I thought those Were the underlying issues from the beginning:
    Essentially doctrinal in nature that concerns primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes.
    What details were they working out if not the Essential ones?

  148. Lori Pieper says:


    Very sorry, I should also thank you for putting at least a little light on the argument that would defend my views.

  149. veritasmeister says:


    I wasn’t really attributing much of anything to you with my last post, other than speaking about what you raised in general terms, namely spreading the Gospel and utilizing the metaphor of a house with furniture.

    To your point about the counterReformation, it is not of any real concrete relevancy that 1,500 years of Catholic life and truth existed prior to the period. Development doesn not mean modifying the faith to suit the Gospel mission in different times and places. Development means bringing forward in greater description, detail, and profundity that which has always been contained in the faith, if only implicitly so. Nothing of authoritative infallible substance formulated and declared at the Ecumenical Council of Trent contradicts what was officially held during the previous 1,500 years, nor should any of it contradict what is held today. It took Trent and an official response to the Reformation to bring forth aspects of the faith in exacting detail that had always been present, if not always explicitly officially stated.

    This is the issue of Second Vatican that you do not seem to be addressing. All previous ecumenical councils were aligned with all of their predecessor councils and official forms of doctrinal teaching in the substantive areas of defined doctrine. If you think the same holds true for what Second Vatican says in all of its doctrinal areas, however, non-infallible the novel teachings area, you have your work cut out for you.

  150. robtbrown says:

    Lori Pieper,

    JPII was only at the Angelicum a couple years, during which time he wrote his tesi on St John of the Cross. It was common knowledge that he was already reading phenomenology during his time at the Angelicum. His later work and degree in Poland was in ethics, centered on a synthesis between Catholic morals and Max Scheler. It is well known that his strength was sexual morals–he also was more than a bit familiar with Marxism. Neither of which is of much use in questions on the nature of the Eucharist, the Priesthood, or Grace.

    Probably, Veritatis Splendor was the best and most important of his encyclicals. The central arguments in it were mostly the work of Servais Pinckaers, a Belgian Dominican who taught for years in Switzerland.

    BTW, I have three degrees from the Angelicum.

  151. cyrillist says:

    @catholicmidwest: I’d be really careful about assuming that Vatican II moved us beyond “prescriptive religion,” even (or especially) if that was its intent. That’s what the “spirit of Vatican II” crowd assumes – “Oh, we’re all grown-ups now, we don’t need all those childish do’s and don’t’s anymore.” Witness the result, it’s everywhere.

    I, for one, can still use all the “prescriptions” I can get, and those who assume otherwise are most likely the ones who need to “think long and hard” about it. A rupture with the Counter-Reformation mentality could well have been premature – how often does any sudden rupture lead to a positive result?

  152. Clinton R. says:

    I think I would be safe in saying Vatican II has not been a Council of unity. Terms like “trads”, “neo-Cats” “Novus Ordo Catholic” and groups like the SSPX and sedevacantists did not exist before the Second Vatican Council. Since the documents were written, as Cardinal Kasper has admitted, in an ambiguous manner, it has allowed the modernists to have free reign to implement any and every harebrained idea. And this has resulted in a very fractured Church where we still don’t have any clarity on what we must accept from Vatican II. I can understand the SSPX’s reluctance to ‘accept’ Vatican II when no one has clearly stated what it is we are supposed to accept. I am sure Pope Francis knows the great damage the Church has suffered in the post-Council decades, and that endless novelties and changes has not resulted in the hoped for “springtime”. I do not know of any other council that brought in the “smoke of Satan” into the sanctuary. Growth in the Church Militant (ie priestly vocations) is coming largely from the Traditionalists. 70’s era “spirit of Vatican II-ism” has proved to been a withered vine that has borne no fruit. I pray Pope Francis does not see those of us who love the beautiful traditions of the Catholic Church and who have suffered through banal liturgies, endless novelties and suspect theology as the enemy.

  153. Joan A. says:

    Fr. Z’s balanced approach is wise, until the Pope himself might clarify some of these rather sweeping generalizations, in later discourses. He is a man who is unpredictable and often we don’t quite know what he means by his actions, and sometimes words. We cannot read the mind of Pope Francis. He is all over the place, or SEEMS to be so far.

    These sermonettes are “off the cuff”. Maybe he simply had a headache and did not choose the most apt phrase here or there. I don’t see how any substantive conclusions about the future of the Church can be gleaned from this one homily.

  154. Lori Pieper says:


    Yes, during those two years at the Angelicum, he did all his studies in theology, and wrote his tesi di laurea, doctorate actually awarded in Poland at the Jagellonian University that same year, plus further study after that. You said he didn’t have anything beyond his seminary studies in theology, remember? It would be nice for you to admit you were wrong. I don’t know why people find that so hard to do.

    (Amittedly, that must have been one of the fastest doctorates on record; only two years. He must have achieved the equivalent of the licentiate, or almost, during his years studying in Cracow, because he was received the licentiate and was admitted to the studies for the doctorate very fast).

    It’s pointless to say that “well, he did so much reading in philosophy at the same time” or “he was familiar with Marxism.” What, does studying philosophy somehow cancel out his study of theology and make him incapable of doing anything in the subject? Believe me, JPII had enough theology to tackle the Eucharist, grace, and the priesthood. Of course he had advisors for his encyclicals; all Popes do. Trying to paint JPII as some sort of intellectual lightweight doesn’t wash, any more than attacking the subject of his philosophical studies does.

  155. catholicmidwest says:

    Veritasmeister, you said, “Development means bringing forward in greater description, detail, and profundity that which has always been contained in the faith, if only implicitly so.”
    Correct, and there is no reason whatsoever to think that Post-Reformation Catholicism was the last word on development, is there? If you don’t think this is true and you have some kind of proof of that, then by all means, please produce it and save us all a lot of work.

    And again, you said, “If you think the same holds true for what Second Vatican says in all of its doctrinal areas, however, non-infallible the novel teachings area, you have your work cut out for you.”
    Yup, no one ever guaranteed this was going to be easy, but the Scriptures guarantee that the Church will go on. This is what we have to work with. We all have our work cut out for us.

  156. catholicmidwest says:

    cyrillist, you said, “I’d be really careful about assuming that Vatican II moved us beyond “prescriptive religion,” even (or especially) if that was its intent. That’s what the “spirit of Vatican II” crowd assumes – “Oh, we’re all grown-ups now, we don’t need all those childish do’s and don’t’s anymore.” Witness the result, it’s everywhere.

    For one thing, it’s rather obvious that VII didn’t move us beyond prescriptive religion even if that might have been a major point of it. How do I know that? Because we’re still having this conversation after all these years, that’s how. We haven’t moved past it because we’re stuck in it until we consent not to be stuck in it anymore. The Scriptures say:
    9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; but they didn’t have anything on us. Will we never learn?

    Regarding your stereotypes, be very careful about the cartoons that have developed in the meantime. Someone, with a far better sense of humor than I have, said in this very blog last week that the two polemic extremes in this business, the far progressives and the far traditionalists, were like conjoined twins having a fistfight over who gets the last cupcake. I’ve never seen a more accurate description of what we’ve witnessed for the last 40 years. Yes. That’s exactly what it’s been like and we will get nowhere as long as we are bound and determined to help the protagonists of this brawl by cheering them on. Fighting tooth and nail for cupcakes (or whatever) isn’t the point, was never the point and has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. That’s our own weird obsessions talking. This is not just me talking. Salvation history is full of the human predilection for going to the ends of the earth to avoid the truth when it presents itself. And that’s what this is. This warfare between brothers has to stop and the sooner the better.

  157. Gratias says:

    SimonDodd at 8:30 am: Cardinal Bergoglio was bad for the Latin Mass in the federal capital of Bs. As. Please see

  158. SEOtechbench says:

    A lot of comments, in many directions. Heavy minds thinking. I hope hearts are thinking, also…

  159. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    anna 6 said (16 April 2013 at 10:29 pm), “stop paraphrasing his homilies (that goes for CNS too.)”

    Is there a certainly reliable full Italian text/tramscription available, yet? And a persuasive English translation of that?

    jhayes quoted: “Nell’omelia commenta la prima lettura del giorno: ci parla del martirio di Santo Stefano che prima di essere lapidato annuncia la Risurrezione di Cristo, ammonendo i presenti con parole forti: “Testardi! Voi opponete sempre resistenza allo Spirito Santo”. Stefano ricorda quanti hanno perseguitato i profeti e dopo averli uccisi gli hanno costruito “una bella tomba” e solo dopo li hanno venerati. Anche Gesù – osserva il Papa – rimprovera i discepoli di Emmaus: “Stolti e lenti di cuore a credere in tutto ciò che hanno detto i profeti!”. “Sempre, anche tra noi” – rileva il Pontefice – “c’è quella resistenza allo Spirito Santo” .

    Is it clear which of the is ‘fervorino text’ and which, someone else’s (not necessarily always accurate) glossing? For, what secondeve quotes from Cindy Wooden gives quite a different impression:

    ‘Catholics seemed willing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the council’s opening in 1962, he said, but they want to do so by “building a monument” rather than by changing anything.

    ‘At the same time, Pope Francis said, “there are voices saying we should go back. This is called being hard-headed, this is called wanting to domesticate the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming ‘foolish and slow of heart,’” like the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.’

    I ask, because, of course, St. Stephen nowhere refers to “una bella tomba” , but does repeatedly refer to “tabernaculum” in Acts 7. And, according to Wooden, the Holy Father earlier said, ‘But, too often, he said, Catholics are like the Apostle Peter on the mountaintop when Jesus is transfigured. They, like Peter, say, “Oh, how nice it is to be here all together,” but “don’t bother us.”’ – and, of course, St. Peter literally went on to refer to “tabernacula” (e.g., Mark 9:5).

    So, I wondered if the “monumento” commented upon by The Drifter –

    ‘ “Festeggiamo questo anniversario, facciamo un monumento, ma che non dia fastidio” The Holy Father’s use of the word “monumento” is interesting, since in Italian it does not just mean “monument”, for example a celebrative statue or building, but also a piece of writing destined for posterity and voluntarily interpreting certain events of the past. And who are those who have erected a “monumento” to VCII, so that the latter “non dia fastidio”? (freely translated as “being a pain in the rear” ‘ –

    might in the first place refer back to St. Peter’s “tabernacula”?

    If so, there is nothing inherently wrong with these “tabernacula” – and certainly not with the “tabernaculum testimonii” of St. Stephen’s repeated reference! (They can, of course, be abused.)

    So, it would seem ‘we’ (in the “iamo” endings – and thus including the Pope himself!) are being compared to St. Peter – and also (contra my earlier speculation, I would now posit) in “voci che vogliono andare indietro” to St. Cleophas and his companion, who “dixerunt ad invicem”and then “surgentes eadem hora regressi sunt in Ierusalem” (Luke 24:32-33). If the “voci” do indeed refer primarily to SSPX, then, it would seem, as ‘warm-heartedly’ significantly ‘surging’ in a good direction (!).

    (By the way, is it known whether the Pope tends most often to read a particular translation of the Bible? Something like that might affect his word-choice in Italian in his ‘fervorini’.)

  160. anna 6 says:

    The other option would be to not feel obliged to publish a transcript of EVERY fervorino, unless Pope Francis chooses to after the fact. I am sure that previous popes gave daily, or almost daily homilies at their morning Masses. As much as I would have liked to have heard them, not everything a pope says must be published (and subsequently parsed) since it doesn’t all carry the same weight.

    Venerator Sti Lot, just for the record, I was frustrated with CNS and Vatican Radio’s paraphrases…no one else’s :).

  161. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    anna 6, by “Vatican Radio” do you mean only Susy Hodges, or Sergio Centofanti as well (the two accounts Fr. Z links) – or more than this? And would you like to say more about why you were particularly frustrated with those paraphrases? Centofanti, as Fr. Z notes, provides more ‘fervorino text’ than Hodges, but CNS Cindy Wooden one also gives a sense of the shape or exposition of the sermon (I hopefully assume a just one). My latest comment above was an attempt to see the most likely reading of that shape, drawing on the Centofanti quotations.

    Your “other option” observations seem quite just, but in a situation of constant polemics (which, whether one likes it or not, seems the current general situation) the rapid provision of reliable transcriptions and, say, equally reliable English and Spanish translations (the two ‘biggest’ Indo-European world languages) – even with warnings that they are subject to revision (including authorial, to a more ‘final form’!) – strkes me as the most prudent option. Let any and all quoting polemicists be compared with a full text and all the context that gives!

  162. SimonDodd says:

    Gratias, that is completely nonresponsive, I’m afraid; we’ve all read the Rorate pieces, and I had them specifically in mind in saying that “I have seen no [evidence] … that Card. Bergoglio suppressed SP[.] N.b. ‘not actively helping’ =/= ‘suppression’; ‘it didn’t happen’ =/= ‘suppression.’” Rorate’s flagship post on the subject is titled “How Summorum Pontificum was blocked and trampled on in Buenos Aires: facts, not fantasy and disinformation,” and what do we learn? We are told: Under the old Ecclesia Dei regime, for the last decade of which Bergoglio was Archbishop, he did not give permission for celebration of the TLM. We are not, however, told that anyone asked, which orphans the insinuation that permission was denied. We are told: After SP was promulgated, a place was “designated” by “the Archdiocese” and the TLM was celebrated only once per month; priests who tried to celebrate the TLM elsewhere were “ordered” to stop. No evidence is tendered on the last point, and all these points, we are given no indication that anyone asked. It is, moreover, it is entirely opaque who gave the “order” and did the “designating.”

    At no point does Rorate’s reporting show—or even come close to showing—that Bergoglio as actively opposed to the TLM. It seems to me that everything that they have reported, taking it at face-value, is readily-susceptible to either or both of two explanations: Either there was no demand, or, as I suggested, Bergoglio was indifferent and delegated the entire matter to (an) official(s) within the archdiocese who were themselves hostile or incompetent. What Rorate has credibly reported is that the TLM was a bust in Buenos Aires. It is fair to fault Bergoglio for not doing more. And I do. But no one has yet tendered a shred of evidence that convincingly connects active and direct hostility from Bergoglio to the failure of SP in his diocese.

  163. Gratias says:

    From another article in Rorate from March 13 about Cardinal Bergoglio as an Archbishop: “A sworn enemy of the Traditional Mass, he has only allowed imitations of it in the hands of declared enemies of the ancient liturgy. He has persecuted every single priest who made an effort to wear a cassock, preach with firmness, or that was simply interested in Summorum Pontificum. Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is.”

    Of course one can always hope for the best, but some of us are very worried.

  164. cyrillist says:

    @catholicmidwest: Well, that’s what I get for posting in a hurry. I realize now that my first sentence really should have read, “I’d be really careful about assuming that it’s necessarily a good thing for us to ‘move beyond prescriptive religion,’ even (or especially) if it was Vatican II’s intent that we do so.” A bit different, right? – my apologies, the rest of my post can stand as is.

    If “prescriptive religion” comprises the traditional do’s and don’t’s (commandments) of the Faith, then sorry, we need to be stuck in it, because that goes back to way before the Counter-Reformation, and the alternative is “all we like sheep… every one to his own way,” i.e., the status quo. Nobody has a monopoly on stiff necks.

    Also, the cupcake-fight analogy (also commonly expressed as “the ditches on either side of the road”)? I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. Just because there are two identifiable “extremes” doesn’t mean that they both must be wrong and that the truth must lie somewhere in the middle. Warfare can exist between objectively right and wrong views, and it shouldn’t cease until the right view (which is in fact the royal road to the Kingdom of God) prevails. (Guess which “extreme” I espouse? And God bless.)

  165. SimonDodd says:

    Gratias, I’m very worried too, but alarm doesn’t change the burden of proof. What you’ve just quoted from Rorate is nothing but vague, bare assertion; it asserts that Bergoglio is a “sworn enemy” of the traditional Mass; it offers nothing concrete about what that means or what specific actions he has taken to meet that standard. It asserts that he “has only allowed imitations of it in the hands of the declared enemies of the ancient liturgy,” but gives no specifics, and is in any event a bizarre statement insofar as, under SP, his power to permit or forbid the TLM it stops at the doors of his cathedral. It assertsthat he has “persecuted” traditionally-minded priests, but gives no specifics about who or how. And it asserts that his homilies are opaque—that one we can embrace, but not because the article gives proof but because we see in fact that his homilies are opaque, and reasonably infer that he has not spontaneously gotten any worse at it.

    Notice that no specifics, not even examples, are given. No proof is tendered. It’s bare assertion, and so vague that it’s impossible to verify or falsify. Think about it: Suppose one had the time or inclination to systematically prove Rorate wrong. How could you do it? The accusations are so vague that anything you can verify can be dismissed. “Oh, you have an example of a priest who wore a cassock? How do you know that he wasn’t persecuted?” No, what I want to see is something like this: “In March of 2008, Father John Smith scheduled a traditional latin mass at St. Andrew’s parish in the Parque Los Andes suburb of Buenos Aires, and Cardinal Bergoglio wrote to him saying that he’d better scrub plans for the Mass because if he went ahead with it, dire consequences (to wit…) would follow, and by the way here’s a copy of the letter.” Or even: “Father John Smith tells us that he scheduled a TLM at St. Andrew’s, and Bergoglio wrote/said to him warning that he’d better scrub it.” That’s useful information. It can be verified or falsified. That’s precisely why St. Paul, in 1st Corinthians 15, says that Jesus appeared to a bunch of people after the resurrection, “most of whom are still living”: Verifiability! “Don’t take my word for it,” says Paul, “go ask Jeff in accounting! He was there! Go ask Roberta and Andy in physical plant, they were there too! They’ll tell you!” Verifiability! Rorate, by contrast, says “just trust us.” That isn’t good enough. And it’s even less adequate because I’m exceedingly sympathetic to Rorate’s position—information that tends to bolster our existing suppositions and prejudices should be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny, not less!

    Here’s what I think is happening: We are alarmed because we see in the present that Bergoglio’s liturgical tastes are decidedly low-Church, and we think that’s a terrible thing in a pope, especially at this moment in history. We don’t have much information, and so we look to the only source we have: His tenure in Argentina. And because we’re looking because we’re worried, we get trapped into confirmation bias and circular reasoning: We’re worried that Francis will be hostile to the TLM, so we look at the state of the TLM in Buenos Aires and, finding it wanting, conclude that it must be because Bergoglio was hostile to it. This bolsters in our minds the working assumption that Bergoglio was hostile to the TLM, and so we look further, and, amazingly enough, find lots of scraps of information that are consistent with that assumption, which bolsters the assumption yet further, and then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves on the top floor of a fairytale castle of half-baked inferences piled on half-baked inferences, running “Bergoglio is a sworn enemy of the TLM” up the flagpole. But there’s nothing below our feet. Rorate has extremely strong incentives to find credible, specific evidence of Bergoglio’s hostility to the TLM, and yet they’ve come up with nothing.

  166. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m talking about the Post-Reformation paradigm of the faith being dead and I’ve made that clear in my posts. I realize what’s going on here, and I’m not interesting in a peeing match over the extremes of ideology, even religious ideology. What’s central to the faith will live on no matter what you or I think about it and that’s the bottom line. I’m willing to leave it at that, in God’s hands.

  167. anna 6 says:

    “the RAPID provision of RELIABLE transcriptions and, say, equally reliable English and Spanish translations (the two ‘biggest’ Indo-European world languages) – even with warnings that they are subject to revision (including authorial, to a more ‘final form’!) – strkes me as the most prudent option. Let any and all quoting polemicists be compared with a full text and all the context that gives!”

    Excellent advise Venerator Sti Lot!

  168. John of Chicago:
    Trent was called to address a dogmatic crisis: the Protestant rebellion.

    Vatican II was convened by John XXII “for pastoral reasons.” He denuded the council, in his own words only intended as a modest council, without any dogmatic significance, by excluding all condemnations (even of communism!), anathemas, teaching canons and solemn technical definitions.

    Monsignor [Dr.] DePauw had very good reasons for this analysis.

  169. Dr. robt brown:

    1. I will defer to Lori here, I have no contention with Karol Wojtyla’s credentials as a theologian or scholar.

    2. Just because there were differences (however minor) in metaphysics and philosophy between Thomists and Suaresians does not explain the wholesale rejection of the Biblical cosmology we find in the partisans of the Nouvelle Theologie condemned in no uncertain terms by Pius X and Pius XII. The argument I advanced has much more to do with the heterodox synthesis of a false natural theology (Evolutionism and Copernicanism) with the primitive sources of Catholicism (Scripture and the Eastern Fathers).

    3. Even you with three degrees must admit that DeLubac vociferously defended Teilhard to the unequivocal condemnation of both Von Hildebrand and Gilson. It would be unfortunate for you to deny this.

    4. Concur. But the motives of the Ressourcement partisans is tainted with Modernism in my judgment.

    5. Concur.

    6. Teilhard’s influence is explicit in JRatzinger’s works as a private doctor. KWojtyla’s excesses of hubris and sophistry in his thesis of a universal giving of grace (Fr. Johannes Dormann) reflect the Teilhardian bent of DeLubac’s confusion of grace (that it is a necessary perfection of nature) .

    Thanks for your very interesting and educational thoughts on my post.


  170. SimonDodd says:

    Catholic Johnny, the “pastoral council” card strikes me as the cornerstone of a seriously overplayed hand. It is certainly true that Vatican II was intended as a pastoral council; it is certainly appropriate to use this as a hermeneutic lens through which to read the conciliar documents. When a conciliar document makes a statement that could be read as changing doctrine or as simply reformulating the pastoral presentation of an existing doctrine while leaving its substance untouched, we should prefer the latter reading, without any doubt. To imply, however, that because Vatican II was called as a pastoral council, therefore nothing that it taught therefore has any doctrinal weight is just absurd; are we to believe that the pope has the authority to decide the ambit of a council ex ante, and yet the pope plus the entire episcopal college do not have the authority to decide to go further in media res? When a conciliar document (especially when that document styles itself a “dogmatic constitution”) makes a statement that is in its very nature doctrinal, we must give it the full and fair meaning that it claims for itself, notwithstanding the overall pastoral character of the council.

  171. @ catholicmidwest:
    You seem to have missed the point. “Forward” is a slogan closely associated with Marxism and the cult of human progress. Gaudium et Spes advances very similar ideas in Schillebeeckx’s Mystery of Man doctrine (Christ reveals man to man himself) and it’s overtly (and unwarranted) optimism about the perfectibility of human society.

    LG also takes up a theme of “the unity of mankind” and of course Dignitatis humanae advances a theory of an absolute [God-given] right for men to embrace, believe and practice any religion whatever.

    Unless you fully understand on what grounds Von Hildebrand, Etinne Gilson and others have so completely denounced Teilhard’s errors, you might think I am attributing a false value to Pope Francis’ choice of the word ‘forward.’ In the context of Vatican II (which is the explicit context he is using here) the word forward could very well indicate that this Pope believes that the novelties taught/implied by the council are in fact inspired by the Holy Ghost.

    There are sound theological reasons to pause at that.

  172. Simon,
    How could an ecumenical council convoked for such explicitly modest purposes (never had a council taken such extreme measures to ensure it was NOT teaching infallibly – see: The Lost Synod by Tim Rohr http://1timothy315.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-lost-synod.html) which explicitly refused to condemn any errors (not even communism) employ such ambiguous language NOT end up confusing the faithful?

    And amongst such erudite company, do I really have to explain that restatements of perennial Catholic teaching receive almost no attention from either scholars or critics but rather the novelties and innovations? Inasmuch as 90% of the council is a restatement of previously canonized teaching but in a new ‘pastoral’ language open to various interpretations?

    I am not a scholar, but our Lord praised the Father for revealing the heavenly doctrine to the “little ones.” As a Catholic, I know when I hear and see things that the former august Pontiffs used to reject as “rash, and offensive to pious ears.” When was the last time you heard that?

  173. Cardinal Kasper:

    “In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.”

    “For most Catholics, the developments put in motion by the council are part of the church’s daily life. But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning nor the springtime of the church, which were expected at that time, but rather a church that has a wintery look, and shows clear signs of crisis.”” (Cardinal Walter Kasper, L’Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013)

  174. cyrillist says:

    Fine, catholicmidwest. I just don’t believe that the Post-Reformation paradigm is really dead. You claim that if it wasn’t for Catholics’ stiff necks, we’d have moved beyond it. I think that we haven’t moved beyond it, in spite of all post-VatII efforts, because deep down, folks haven’t completely forgotten what’s good for them. Peace out.

  175. John of Chicago says:

    Catholic Johnny
    Just seeking clarification on your (12:31 today) comment re: Msgr. DePauw. Did the Monsignor contend that any time a pope dies during a Church Council it was a “sign of God’s disfavor” (e.g. Paul III and Julius III) or only when John XXIII died after Vatican II’s first session was it such a sign?

  176. SimonDodd says:

    Catholic Johnny, we are talking at cross-purposes: I agree (and one could scarcely dispute) that the council lead to mass confusion. Indeed, I tend to think that the Council was a well-intentioned but regrettable mistake, and for that reason, it shouldn’t have been called, I think that the Holy Spirit had to work overtime to ensure that the council did not ultimately teach error in spite of its best efforts, although He was, of course, successful in doing so. Nevertheless, none of that really relates to my previous point, which was simply that the convocation for pastoral reasons provides a lens through which we read the council’s documents, rather than an escape hatch through which we may shovel actual teachings therein that may irk us.

  177. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    robtbrown (if you happen to check the comments here),

    Drawing together your references to the neglect of St. Thomas, and to Karol Wojtyla’s attention to phenomenology and Max Scheler, I wonder if you could be encouraged to say anything about Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross and her scholarly work in this context?

  178. John of Chicago:
    I am not an interlocutor for the great Dr. DePauw. I retrieved his comments from an allocution addressed to Catholics in 1967. The gist of his argument was that because Vatican II involved significant risk in being overrun by Modernists (which it was in the faction of the Rhine Group), and that it did not address any dogmatic crisis at work in the church, it should never have been called in the first place, and when John XXIII died, it was a sign of Divine disfavor of the entire undertaking.
    We are all familiar with the urban legend (or was it true?) of Pope Roncalli exclaiming on his death bed, “stop the council!” Who really knows? What IS known is that the non-canonical bishops’ conferences rose up in a democratic spirit to oppose Rome’s 72 prepatory schemas and immediatley insisted on their own agenda beginning with reform of the liturgy. Pope Pius XII famously said that experimenting with the liturgy was a very bad idea (paraphrasing here). Yet that was the number one item on the Rhine Group’s agenda even though John XXIII had JUST authorized a new Missal in the same year (an update of the Missal of St. Pius V, actually), 1962.

    The fact that Paul VI inflated the council with grandiose aspirations never conceived by Pope John (again, see Tim Rhor’s profound column on the the Lost Synod http://1timothy315.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-lost-synod.html) shows that Msgr. DePauw’s analysis has weight and merit. The council was an anomaly – never before had an ecumenical council refused to condemn any errors, define dogmas, provide teaching canons and solemn definitions, or pronounce anathemas. THIS ALONE SHOULD DISQUALIFY THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL EQUAL FOOTING WITH THE PREVIOUS TWENTY ECUMENICAL COUNCILS.
    Monsignor DePauw’s comments, as I recall them, should not be construed as a general principle applicable to any and every council. They apply to Vatican II because of its marked departure from previous conciliar norms.

    I am not competent to judge the great Roman theologian and canon lawyer’s analysis. But Dr. DePauw was a council peritus and understood the entire process far better than most, and in hindsight, his alacrity and prescience have never been found faulty or mistaken.

  179. An excerpt from Tim Rhor’s excellent column:

    The Roman Synod was convened by Pope John XXIII in January, 1960. It was meant to be the “solemn forerunner of the larger gathering (Vatican II) which it was meant to prefigure and anticipate” (2), and at which, the schema, the plans for the Council, as prepared by the pope’s preparatory commission, were finalized and promulgated.
    According to Amerio, Pope John believed the Council would be completed in a couple of months. The pope’s hope for a speedy council was prompted by his belief that his preparatory commission had adequately prepared the schema for the Council. Thus the Council itself would be a rather simple and straightforward affair of fleshing out the schema and ratifying the final documents. “Over by Christmas”, said the Pope on October 11, 1962, the first day of the Council. (3)
    Of course the Council was NOT “over by Christmas” nor the next, nor the next. The Council carried on for three years during which Pope John died. But it could be said that his plans for the Council died first. For as Amerio recounts, and Benedict reflects, the bishops’ first order of business at the Council was to set aside every one of the prepared schema, effectively negating nearly two year’s of work by the pope’s preparatory commission and nullifying all that he promulgated at the Roman Synod. (4)
    In fact, as if to emphasize that this was their Council (the bishops) and NOT the pope’s, Amerio records that not only was the Synod never referenced in any Council document, every trace of it was deleted from church archives. It was treated, as Amerio says, “tanquam non fuerit” (“as if it had never been”).


  180. “…in The Desolate City, John Cardinal Heenan of Westminster reported that when, during the rebellious first session of the Council, the pope realized that the papacy had lost control of the process, he attempted to organize a group of bishops to try to force it to an end. Malcolm Muggeridge, who reported from Rome on the Second Vatican Council for the British Broadcasting Corporation, considered Pope John “politically naive and unduly influenced by the handful of ‘liberal’ clerics with whom he is in close contact.” In a 1985 interview, he gave his assessment of the pope thus: Really Pope John — who was built up as a saintly and perfect pope, the good man of our time — whether consciously or unconsciously, did more damage to the Church than possibly any other individual man had ever done in the whole of its history…. It seemed almost as though Pope John was operating on behalf of the devil without being in any way conscious of it. Whatever Pope John’s disposition was, however, before the second session of the council could open, he died. His last words on his deathbed, as reported by Jean Guitton, the only Catholic layman to serve as a peritus at the Council, were: “Stop the Council; stop the Council.” In any case, it is a fact that Pope John signed not one document of the Second Vatican Council.


  181. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown and @CatholicJohnny as to No. 5,

    couldn’t a statement such as this one also be interpreted along the line of “facienti quod est in se”?

    Because… while human nature certainly can accept truth on its own part… as a matter of fact God does have set a supernatural end for all mankind (possibly excluding those dying as unbaptized infants, about whom nothing is known for certain). Which may make it possible enough that God bestows some grace where (even though in a technical sense not “because”) nature is on the right path.

    I mean isn’t that defensible…? I myself might think differently, and guess that the place of grace is rather in a) the lives of Christians, b) the steps leading to actual and unveiled conversion in this life, c) the hour of death, d) some miraculous exceptional cases.

  182. Imrahil,
    My answer is that grace cannot be the neccessary perfecting of nature, as the New Testament makes this clear in St. Paul’s teaching on election (Romans 9) and Pope Pius XII condemns DeLubac’s position in Humani generis:

    26. Some also question whether angels are personal beings, and whether matter and spirit differ essentially. Others destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision. Nor is this all. Disregarding the Council of Trent, some pervert the very concept of original sin, along with the concept of sin in general as an offense against God…

    And we MUST break with the sloppy habit of conflating ‘humankind’ (abstractly) with individual persons (elect according to grace) which the Second Vatican Council turned into an art form. Yes, ‘mankind’ as an established order in creation is ordered to the beatific vision; yet we must distinguish the doctrine of salvation of persons from mankind abstractly as St. Paul teaches in Romans:

    For when the children were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil (that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand,) [12] Not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said to her: The elder shall serve the younger. [13] As it is written: Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated. [14] What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? God forbid. [15] For he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
    (Romans 9:11-16)

    DeLubac’s error is that he adopts Teilhard’s fantasy that spirit evolves from matter. This is insanity, and upsets the entire order of creation. Pope John Paul II also demonstrates a strong tendency in this regard by establishing a super-doctrine upon GS 22 which he interprets as a proof-text for the universal giving of grace by virtue of the Incarnation of Christ. This upsets the entire structure of original justice, sanctifying grace, original sin, the justification of sinners by grace through faith, the efficacy of the Sacramental order, etc… It shifts the action of God in Christ to working by nature (“by His incarnation, Christ has in some fashion united Himself to each man” – GS 22) rather than through grace given through the Passion (actual grace, faith, conversion, penance, good works, final perseverence).

    I know this same rather scrutinous, but for me, much of the entire crisis in the church is understood along these lines of theology.

  183. Imrahil says:

    Grace is not the necessary perfection of nature; but then I was talking of such arguments where this was not explicitly said so.

    And grace is the actual perfection God saw fit for of all non-resisting human beings (possibly excluding unbaptized infants about whom nothing is known for certain).

    The issue between mankind and individual men is a non-issue. I was talking about the sum of all individual men altogether.

    1. God, even taking into account original sin, truly and sincerely wills the salvation of all men. S. f. p.
    2. God gives to all the just sufficient grace to observe the divine commandments. D. f.
    3. God gives to all the faithful sinners sufficient grace for conversion. S. comm.
    4. God gives to all the non-culpably unfaithful sufficient grace for eternal salvation. S. cert.

    (Ludwig Ott, Dogmatics IV/I § 11)

    All of which does not work without grace.

    We only must be careful not to postulate an intrinsic right of nature to be elevated to the order of grace; but God does do such things.

  184. Imrahil says:

    Correction of my second paragraph

    And grace is the actual perfection God saw fit for of all human beings (possibly excluding unbaptized infants about whom nothing is known for certain).

    He saw it fit even for the ones who would resist, though He permits the resistance.

  185. I am not understanding you, Imrahil.
    St. Paul teaches clearly that not all men have faith. He goes further into the mystery of election in his discussion of Israel in Romans 9-11. While God cannot be judged by mere men, it is evident that (a) many men spurn/reject actual grace; and (b) God is under no compulsion to distribute graces to men as though this flows from necessity.

    Even if “God gives to all the non-culpably unfaithful sufficient grace for eternal salvation…” what are you saying?

    For me this is the point: grace is distributed by the Holy Ghost gratuitously, that is, according to the Divine Will and purpose, according to His own generosity. As the LORD spoke through Moses,
    “Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:18)

    We are not permitted to scrutinize the mysteries of the Divine Will. Scripture is clear:

    “And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. [20] For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved.” John 3:19-20

    I am afraid we are all too conditioned by the false optimism of Teilhardian evolutionism so rampant in the church today to soberly grapple with the grave and irreversible condition of souls that will be damned at the Last Judgment. Pope John Paul II’s unfortunate endorsement of Urs Von Balthasar’s chimerical hope that hell will be empty has been mainstreamed in popular religion and the false understandings of nature and supernature, so blurred by the Modernists and their immanentist errors have also become accepted as true.

    This is at the bedrock of the theological confusion in the church and in my opinion, the cancerous growth that must be surgically removed for the health of the rest of the body.

  186. Imrahil says:

    Whatever about my being conditioned… and I freely confess that I’m conditioned not to believe that God arbitrarily casts people into Hell if I see any chance of other interpretation.

    Be that as it may, what I quoted was from Ludwig Ott, who is not influenced by Teilhardism.

    For me this is the point: grace is distributed by the Holy Ghost gratuitously, that is, according to the Divine Will and purpose, according to His own generosity.
    For me this is the point, yes it is, but as a matter of fact (not by any necessity or dueness) this generosity extends to each and every human being. This, I insist, is not my opinion alone, but has all the convincing and/or binding character I reported when citing the respective sentences.

    Facienti quod est in se, Deus non denegat gratiam. Not because he would have to, but because He wills to (and via making known His will of universal salvation, He has revealed us He wills to.)

    There is no single human being whom God does not will to be in Heaven; if someone does fail to get to heaven, it is because he resisted in full guilt and with God’s permission.

    This is firm Catholic doctrine, and not Teilhardism or whatever; my position to the contrary is identical to Chesterton’s position who spoke against it in vivid terms and called it frankly Calvinism.

    Which – now deviating from the topic a bit – is why the doctrine of Hell is indeed good news.

    We know for a fact that all* people either come to Heaven (possibly with the purgatory intermediate) or to Hell. [*Leaving out the unbaptized infants problem.] Now – and I say this even though I myself have deserved to be put into Hell for my sins – we cannot imagine, simply cannot imagine, God in His goodness to distribute such a punishment with ease, nor even with something appearing as ease to men.

    Just imagine God had ordained a natural paradise without chance of attaining Heaven (as the theology has postulated for unbaptized infants) – and the supernatural paradise He actually has ordained, for the superperformers. That would be a depressing thing, wouldn’t it.

    But no. Anybody gets to heaven. (Except those who refuse to go to Heaven.)

  187. Imrahil says:

    Replace my last sentence (the one in brackets) with the one identical in meaning, but more expressing my line of thought here:

    Except those about whom it is a good thing that they burn and are tormented in eternity.

    Much effort for a deviation from the topic, maybe.

  188. Imrahil says:

    And, now not about the deviation:

    Add to the sentence I thought so important to put it in italics, There is no single human being etc., the addition: perhaps excepting unbaptized infants, about whom nothing is known for certain.

  189. I think we agree as to the Divine Will re: universal salvation as the Almighty’s intent.
    I think where we may have some slight disagreement as to (a) what is de fide concerning the distribution of graces in the soteriological economy; and (b) the extensive damage done to contemporary theology and popular religion by Teilhard’s grotesque errors and DeLubac’s ‘rehabilitation’ of them via [some troublingly ambiguous] expressions of the ordinary magisterium and allocutions of Pope John Paul II.

    1. God wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (de fide, St. Paul).
    2. The ordinary means by which God saves sinful men is through the communication of the Gospel (cf. Matthew 28:19-20).
    3. The mission of the Church is to proclaim this saving Gospel through preaching and sacraments.
    4. Men in their natural state of original sin cannot without grace obtain this salvation [from sin].
    5. The grace of God is distributed by the Holy Ghost Who is “poured out upon all flesh in the last days” (Acts 2:16-20, per the Prophet Joel).
    6. By His own will and through ways known only to God, He can save without the ordinary means (preaching, faith, and submission to the church).
    7. No one is permitted to presume upon or speculate about this mysterious way of saving souls, but to invest his entire will and earthly goods in the missionary enterprise.
    8. Ecumenism, religious liberty, and false understandings of nature and natural theology have led to widespread transgressions of the principle identified in point #7.
    9. God cannot be the author of anything harmful to the salvation of immortal souls.
    10. Distortions of the operations of grace upon nature have fomented a grave crisis in the church signified by a lack of reverence for the Mystery of the Trinitarian God; His will; His operations in the world to save souls; the holy sacrifice of the mass; and the missionary impulse.

  190. Imrahil says:

    1.-6. concur.
    7. In this, you’re (at least as far as the “speculate about” is concerned) enacting a quite harsh moral command without any authority save your own, and the fear of bad results. But man is by nature (pun not intended) a speculative animal. Questions are to be treated and can only be treated by answers (“unknown” and “unknown hitherto” are, if seriously meant, answers), not by forbidding the questions. Besides, it is just not the factual case that one is not obligated to invest one’s entire earthly goods into missionary objectivity. (I know that you did not say “obligation”, but then what is the point of saying “entire earthly goods”.)
    8. Falls away, as the principle in 7 is no such thing. Nevertheless, I agree that ecumenism (without necessarily condemning it) and religious liberty (certainly without condemning it), and especially the misguided feeling ordered by no Council that one must always hold one’s tongue back when talking about other’s errors, have thrown up questions which have hitherto impeded missionary activity. I’m not so sure about the errors in theology (but than you might think my own opinions just alike these “errors” too, after all; I hope to have convinced you that they are allowed opinions); but I am sure there are some other reasons coming from politics.
    9. Concur.
    10. I intend, some time, to make my mind up as to what caused these crisises. Wrong theology is a good guess. Whether it is precisely this part of theology I do not know and tend to doubt – but, as a I said, this is from an un-made-up mind. I rather would think of the factors that a) the question of inspiration of the Bible and how we have not only possibility of explanation, but also possibility of explaining that the explanation is not an excuse, b) the success of the propaganda which equates the good old times (which are, for practical European and American matters, always the time of Christian hegemony) with National Socialism.

  191. robtbrown says:

    Catholic Johnny,

    2. The differences are not minor.

    Philosophically, the denial of the Real Distinction drains it of experience. This deficiency not only opened the door to attempts at synthesis with Kant (cf Marechal) but also later was vulnerable to to Existentialist philosophies that later were mixed with certain Patristic texts that seemed to confirm Existentialism.

    Theologically, I will only give one example. JRatzinger noted, and I agree, that the Sacramental theology of Karl Rahner is just another version of that of Suarez.

    3. I already said that DeLubac had a progressive streak. I have little use for him as a theologian. I didn’t much care for his books, and his comments about Gilson were arrogant, uninformed, and condescending (unlike DeLubac, Gilson could actually think). I took his comments about Teilhard to be the consequence of French Jesuit camaraderie and his aforementioned progressive streak.

    IMHO, the central problem of DeLubac is that his concept of man is inaccurate. For St Thomas, of course, man is considered according to human nature–a rational animal. For DeLubac, however, the concept of man includes Grace. He tried to justify this by reference to potentia obedientialis, his understanding of which is incorrect.

    It must be noted that any concept of man by which Grace usurps Nature (and thus all but suppresses causa formalis) is going to be hospitable to various Evolutionist ideologies, including Marxism and Biological evolution.

    Re JRatzinger: Germans are probably the most scholarly people in the world, but Germany has never produced a great Thomist. It’s not unusual for German theologians to have been influenced by Hegel. That notwithstanding, even the early Ratzinger was very interested in St Augustine and St Bonaventure. He also became more than a bit familiar with Joachim di Fiore, and so well understood that Age of the Spirit garbage that has permeated the Church for the past 50 years.

  192. The Masked Chicken says:

    “8. Ecumenism, religious liberty, and false understandings of nature and natural theology have led to widespread transgressions of the principle identified in point #7.”

    To be clear, Ecumenical dialogue is not a bad thing, but it was only supposed to be undertaken by those who know their Faith and how to defend it. That did not happen. Everyone started comparing notes, whether they understood the Faith or not.

    Likewise, religious liberty is a part of the Natural Law, which assumes that religious liberty is put at the service of a true continual search for the Truth.

    It is clearly demonstrable that there is widespread misunderstanding about Natural Law and Natural Theology, however. This is due, in part to a misunderstanding of the basis for the natural sciences, so this is not only a religious matter.

    The Chicken

  193. robtbrown says:


    I don’t think it’s a matter of man’s supernatural end and non Christian religions.

    Non Christian religions are attempts to explain human existence. Sometimes within them are found certain texts (e.g., concerning human existence in some way surviving death) whose content can be discovered by human reason. If memory serves, DeLubac (and JPII) thinks these are the consequence of Grace. My response would be: That’s a possibility, but we know we can attribute them to reason alone.

  194. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    completely agree. You draw my attention to this, “consequence of grace” thing.

    What I was trying to say is that we cannot exclude that God did pour out some grace to them (for this and that reason).

    Nevertheless we cannot say that whoever gets these kinds of truths has them as a consequence of grace; that in fact would be quite insulting to our reason.

  195. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Catholic Johnny,

    Do you use ‘scrutinous’ with reference, e.g., to ‘suspicion of irregularity’? If in the sense of ‘engaging in close investigation’, I wonder, under correction, if you are being scrutinous enough.

    For example, when you recount that the gist of Dr. DePauw’s argument included “when John XXIII died, it was a sign of Divine disfavor of the entire undertaking”, do you consider that he might here have been in danger of attempting “to scrutinize the mysteries of the Divine Will”, to render Providence scrutable, without any Divine warrant?

  196. Imrahil,
    #7 is indeed a sin, the sin of presumption, a sin against hope (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa). To expect our own or anyone’s salvation despite the bad will within us/them is a sin motivated by pride, and is a sin against the virtue of hope.

    How do you not see this? This is Rahner’s folly with his empty speculations about anonymous Christians and DeLubac’s great admiration of Buddhism. We are not to put any trust at all in false religions as means of salvation.
    And as far as missions, how do you read these words:

    “Thy kingdom
    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”?

  197. Venerator Sti Lot,
    I think I was clear above that I am not an interlocutor for Monsignor DePauw.
    There is a mountain of evidence that Pope John XXIII lost control of the council proceedings and could have wanted it to end.
    Scrutinizing the mysteries of God, e.g., conjecturing about who can be saved outside the confines of the visible Church, how God saves men in non-Christian religions, guessing about the eternal destinies of men outside the church, etc… is forbidden.

    Making moral judgments about something as profound as a Pope dying during during an ill-advised ecumenical council he lost control of and that ended up facilitating disastrous decline in the church is hardly scrutinizing, IMHO. But again, I defer to Dr. DePauw’s impressive credentials.

    Deuteronomy 29:29-
    Secret things [belong] to the Lord our God: things that are manifest, to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    Bishop Challoner:
    [29] Secret things: As much as to say, secret things belong to, and are known to, God alone; our business must be to observe what he has revealed and manifested to us, and to direct our lives accordingly.

  198. Others hold that the divine action is one with the action of nature, as the action of the first cause is one with the action of the secondary cause, and this would destroy the supernatural order. Others, finally, explain it in a way which savours of pantheism and this, in truth, is the sense which tallies best with the rest of their doctrines.
    ….Hence, Venerable Brethren, springs that ridiculous proposition of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural.

    Pope St. Pius X, encyclical Pascendi gregis

  199. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Catholic Johnny,

    passing over any invectives which you, no doubt, thought yourself entitled to because you thought yourself fighting for the good cause,

    I’m very glad that you quoted the Summa. Only, you know, when you actually read the Summa, it is far more comfortable than you present it. Indeed it agrees with me, and not with you.

    Sth. II/II 18 IV ad 2: Hope does not trust chiefly in grace already received, but on God’s omnipotence and mercy, whereby even he that has not grace, can obtain it, so as to come to eternal life. Now whoever has faith is certain [the word this article evolves around] of God’s omnipotence and mercy.

    ibid. 21 I sedc.: through presumption, he despises the Divine justice, which punishes the sinner. […] resp. dic. As to the hope whereby a man relies on his own power, there is presumption if he tends to a good as though it were possible to him. […] there may be presumption […] in the fact that a man tends to some good as though it were possible by the power and mercy of God, whereas it is not possible, for instance, if a man hope to obtain pardon without repenting, or glory without merits.

    ibid IV resp.dic. presumption […] as though man thought so much of himself as to esteem that God would not punish him or exclude him from glory, however much he might be a sinner.

    1. I did with no word deny the intrinsical deservedness of eternal punishment, nor its actuality in those who never ever repent, and never ever (besides infants) obtain a single merit.
    2. There is still Purgatory.
    3. If there is any hope it is in that one ceases to be a (mortal) sinner.
    4. The deathbed conversion, the invisible deathbed conversion at the point of death beyond medicinical recoverability, and some other things, are in the strict Thomistic sense possible things. And the repentance is in itself an act of merit.
    5. In the thing we were circling around the false religions do not even enter the discussion.

    Now if I’m rightly informed it is a debated thing whether it can be called hope or is to be called charity when we, speaking colloquially, hope for the others’ salvation. But nothing hinders us from doing so; and nothing hinders us from speculation. As I said, in the Church some answers are forbidden (because they have been found wrong); questions are not forbidden.


    As it were… and now please forgive that while I up to here, although giving my own fallible arguments and understandings, still had firm Church teaching and firm logic at least to point to…… now excuse me to go a bit into speculation on my own. If I err here, that does not make erroneous where I, hopefully, didn’t err.

    Another of the big problems the Church has been facing and the crisis has been caused by is some unresolved post-Calvinistic sickness.

    Calvin, following Luther, denied the Purgatory. And the Purgatory is, in practice, the solution to all the riddles we have been treating in our little discussion.

    Of course, the history of piety has very well known the hard philosophical fact that man deserves hell by some sins (here, whatever they’re saying, virtually all mankind agrees) called the mortal ones (which extend to some where virtually only orthodox Christians agree). But nevertheless, the Catholics have also in practice evolved a certainty that, generally speaking, God will probably forgive the sins (not because man in general, or the specific man in question, is so great and the like – that would be presumption – but always “in spite”, and for reason of His mercy and Christ’s Precious Blood) where He gets the chance (I’m speaking colloquially, and alluding to the free will of the sinner; but by “God gets the chance” I mean the intrinsically necessary acts on the part of the sinner for distribution of mercy, not any additional requirements set up along the line of “let’s not make it to easy for them”). The magisterial foundation I tried, according to my limited means, to give above; here it is about the general feeling, and for this I appeal to literature: see Chesterton, see Graham Greene, see Kuehnelt-Leddihn, see Alfred Döblin, and so on.

    But the practical requirement (I’ve left the safe grounds of certainty and speak, as must be done because this is how the question goes, about the “seemingly probably on a large scale”) for this is Purgatory. God is just. The sins must be punished.

    And Calvin had robbed the Protestants of Purgatory.

    Which is why Protestants had only Hell to scare people with. Which is why in their subconscious despair they hiddenly whitewashed the reality, until finally they actually believed that thundering the more you say “Hell” (well, outside profanities) the more faithful you are.

    The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is not immune to the background noise it operates in front of, especially if it is a background noise of created by parts of Christianity itself. [Which happens to be one of the big problems of ecumenism: it was once founded to bundle efforts in missionary activity. Does not work. How much easier missionary work would be, if there was not for every thing you critizise a Protestant community to favor it.]

    And the land which forms the world’s culture was a Protestant one.

    All this until, hey presto!, the Council came and – whatever it actually said (what it said was an old story first appearing in the Denzinger-Hünermann in a ca. 1850 Pius IX quote) – people seemed to have understood “the non-Catholic can be saved”. I’m not repeating here again inhowfar that is true (in short and inaccurate terms, more than not, but only by a byway). Their reaction? They, faithful Catholics proud [I mean that in the non-moralistic sense] of their orthodoxy, said – you cannot imagine it had it not been the reality – : “Then why become a Catholic after all!”

    If we do not know why to be Catholic even under the hypothesis that you can just as well (which is of course not true) get to Heaven outside the flock, then something has terribly gone wrong.

    And now we come to the missions.


    All I had been saying about them is that, no, the Church has always allowed for private properties even though still even the last penny could be spent for missionary activity.

    Nevertheless, my idea on the missions is something very much unsurprising, viz. that their aim is to actually convert actual souls actually heathen (or Jew) to actual Christianity, by giving their name to the Catechumenate programs, and baptism.

    Also, my idea on the missions is that the missionary gives his audience a great spiritual benefit, not a spiritual harm (not even in general, though its commanding nature is of course a given thing, by exposing them to knowledge).

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