STOP THE PRESSES: Bad news for liberals who have hijacked Pope Francis!

Here is something that really caught my eye.

If this is the real thing, if… this is the real thing… this is huge. It is plausible, but I want to take it with just a grain of salt. This smells pretty Italian. If this is not denied by Fr. Lombardi tomorrow, this is HUGE, with a capital H and capital UGE.

FORWARD: There is a school of interpretation of Vatican II, the so-called “Bologna School”, which has dominated for decades.  They are acolytes of a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.  A few years ago, however, a Vatican official officially dissented and fought back with a book.  Archbp. Agostino Marchetto (with whom I lived for a few years – that’s the place where Card. Bergoglio would have met Marchetto) published a book which blasted apart the position of the Bologna School.  It was published by the Vatican press.  SEE BELOW.

At Settimo Cielo of Sandro Magister … my translation:

Melloni and Company in mourning, betrayed by “their” Pope

No one expected an assessment like this from Pope Francis.  But is came.  And it is resounding.

“I once told you, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and today I repeat it, that I consider you the best hermeneutical interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.”

In Bologna, in the sanctuary of that “school” directed now by Prof. Alberto Melloni, which has had the global monopoly on interpretation of Vatican II, they’ll have lowered their flags to half staff.

Because Agostino Marchetto has always been their bête noire, their most unyeilding critic.

The “Bologna-ites” had attached even Benedict XVI to their interpretation of the Council. Up to yesterday, all enthusiastic, they said about Pope Francis that “he speaks little about the Council because it is implementing in his deeds”, in their way, of course. Meanwhile they never replied precisely to Marchetto’s criticisms. Simply put, they made them into jokes, they laughed at him.

And now they find themselves before “the best interpreter of the Council”, awarded the honor by no less than the teacher’s pet, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The Pope’s acknowledgement of Marchetto was made public on 12 November, on the occasion of the presentation at the Campidoglio of a book in his honor, edited by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Here is the text of the Pope’s letter: [I’ll translate this into American… an Italian epistolary style can sound ridiculous when rendered literally.]

Dear Archbishop Marchetto,

With this letter I want to be present with you and unite myself to the presentation of the book “Primato pontificio ed episcopato. Dal primo millennio al Concilio ecumenico Vaticano II” (Pontifical primacy and the epicopacy: from the first millennium to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council) Please consider me present in spirit.

The topic of the book is an homage to the love that you have for the Church, a love that is, at the same time, loyal and poetic. Loyalty and poetry are not an object for the market: they cannot be bought or sold, they simply are virtues rooted in a heart of a son who feels the Church to be his Mother; or, to be more precise, and to say it with a familiar Ignatian “tone”, as “Holy Mother Hierarchical Church”. [HIERARCHICAL!]

You have manifested this love in many ways, including correcting an error or imprecise comment on my part – and I thank you for that from my heart – but above all it is manifest in all its purity in the studies on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and today I wish to repeat it, that I consider you to be the best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council. I know that this is a gift from God, but I also know that you made it bear fruit.

I am grateful to you for all the good that you do for us with your witness of love for the Church and I ask the Lord that he reward it abundantly.

I ask you please not to forget to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you.

Vatican, 7 October 2013



Agostino Marchetto

If you want Marchetto’s book about the “School of Bologna” and interpretations of the Second Vatican Council it is in English.  Marchetto kindly inscribed my copy when it first came out.

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council

Click HERE or on the image to buy the book in English.

In light of all this, I direct the readership to a piece at National Schismatic Reporter.  Here are a few take-away quotes… (make popcorn):

Church historian: Francis could be moving church to new era of reform
Colleen Dunne | Oct. 24, 2013

Calling Pope Francis “Vatican II high octane,” longtime church historian Jesuit Fr. John O’Malley said last week he sees real potential for church reform, even if it’s just from the new tone and message coming out of Rome.
“With Francis, there is no mincing of words. You know where he stands, and you can’t give it a spin,” O’Malley, an expert on the church’s ecumenical councils, told NCR Oct. 17 before speaking at an event sponsored by Rockhurst University and four other Catholic colleges.  [ROFL!  Nope, you sure can’t spin Francis, can you.  MARCHETTO is right.]


In response to the question many Catholics are asking of whether a new council will be called, O’Malley chuckled and quoted a fellow Jesuit, Fr. James Martin: “We’ve had Vatican III on March 13, 2013” — the day Francis was elected to replace Pope Benedict.


Today has been a good day for the team.


CWN take includes this:

In its description of Archbishop Marchetto’s The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council, published in English in 2010, the University of Chicago Press states:

This important study by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto makes a significant contribution to the debate that surrounds the interpretation of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Archbishop Marchetto critiques the Bologna School, which, he suggests, presents the Council as a kind of “Copernican revolution,” a transformation to “another Catholicism.” Instead Marchetto invites readers to reconsider the Council directly, through its official documents, commentaries, and histories.In a recent essay published in L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, wrote that the interpretation of the Council offered by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto is more relevant than ever. Archbishop Marchetto, wrote Cardinal Koch, has “taken up and deepened the hermeneutic of reform supported by Pope Benedict XVI.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. McCall1981 says:

    Wonderful news!

  2. The Drifter says:

    The Bologna School, founded by an individual of dubious beliefs named Giuseppe Dossetti, has the same attitude as the Jansenist nuns of Port Royal

  3. AnimatedCatholic says:

    I hope your right about Francis, Father. Because if you are, I will get myself a bag of chips, a bottle of bear and watch react in anger to the fact that the Pope is Catholic.

  4. Robbie says:

    Good new. I hope this pans out.

    On a separate issue, why does it seem every Catholic priest the media uses as a commentator is a Jesuit, and a liberal one at that?

  5. iPadre says:

    I look forward to seeing this play out! It should be entertaining if it is true.

  6. kpoterack says:

    I wonder what the “error or imprecise comment” of Pope Francis was that the Archbishop corrected? I wonder if Archbishop Marchetto will be made a cardinal?

  7. Woody79 says:

    If this is true, I’m breaking out the scotch and a cigar!

  8. ChrisRawlings says:

    I don’t understand what is so big about this. Was either Benedict or Bl. John Paul II an acolyte of the Bologna School? If it is a hermeneutic of discontinuity, surely nobody thought that the Pope in Rone would break decisively from Benedict and his stressed hermeneutic of continuity. To put this another way, a hermeneutic of discontinuity seems like something radical only proffered by the schismatic right and your run-of-the-mill liberal, buts urely not the vast bulk of the great Catholic faithful.

    So just forgive my ignorance and help me out.

  9. JJZ says:

    In an essay published in the November 12 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Kurt Koch also praised Archbishop Marchetto’s interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.

  10. JJZ says:

    The Italian-language version of Zenit has published Pope Francis’s tribute to Archbishop Marchetto:

  11. samwise says:

    Thank you for the Cardinal Kurt Koch reference.
    Bishop Walker Nickless is of like mind w/
    “Ecclesia semper reformanda” is his title.

    It’s good to know the Bishops are united eh! UNITE THE CLANS, UNITE THEM!!!!

  12. kpoterack says:

    “If it is a hermeneutic of discontinuity, surely nobody thought that the Pope in Rome would break decisively from Benedict and his stressed hermeneutic of continuity.”

    We have been told over and over (and over) by the media (and many leftist Catholics) that Pope Francis is the “fluffiest pope evuh” and that he will reverse what that mean old German (and Polish) pope did. And, frankly, Pope Francis has used some inapt expressions (“who am I to judge?”) at times that certainly haven’t helped matters. Also, many good Catholic faithful who don’t read blogs have been confused on this matter. If this letter is real, it will certainly help strengthen the spirits of those of us who have been battered by the media onslaught.

  13. pjsandstrom says:

    Father Z, Could not your ‘comment’ on Italian ‘epistolary style’ and the need to ‘translate it into American’ for clarity etc be also applied as a good critique of what Liturgiam Authenticam demands of those who are making translations of the Roman Liturgy? It seems that there is certainly evidence of the same ‘problem’ in a number of the results of the recent translation into English.

  14. Priam1184 says:

    Francis is and will be a fine pope, no matter what the media spin on him is.

  15. annalisa says:

    escuse my english: conservative sites are quite cold about the letter.

  16. benedetta says:

    He said “You can’t spin Pope Francis”, I guess meaning, “you” as in “you people”.

    But he didn’t say “I can’t/don’t/won’t spin Pope Francis” or, “The Fishwrap/America mag/Commonweal/Hell’s Bible, assorted other dissenters wherever situated can’t spin Pope Francis” because we all know that their tireless distortions, misinformation and falsehoods which seem frankly engineered from when Pope Emeritus Benedict announced he would step down, have been spin spin spinning know pretty much daily in a big liberal media lovefest. Ah the sound of screeching brakes!

  17. JoseTomas says:

    The publication of the letter at Zenit shows that it (the letter) was intended to be made public. In other words, that the Pope himself wanted everybody to know about it. So, it is not simply a “personal letter”, Francis, who is anything but naïve, is obviously sending a message for those who have ears.

  18. JoseTomas says:


    .. and, Francis made sure to write a very personal letter, one that could never be dismissed as a “polite protocolar letter” written by a ghostwriter…

  19. Bruce Wayne says:

    I am partly sympathetic to Chris’s response above since I strive to avoid getting caught up in the invoking of secular political prisms within the one, true, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church and orthodox Catholic faith. I mean, the pope being Catholic isn’t really surprising, is it? That is the whole point of rhetorically asking “is the pope Catholic?” as a prosaic way to emphasize that one is serious about something.

    However, I do admit to schadenfreude when I see liberal/progressivist/modernist Catholics made uncomfortable.

    I also understand why kpoterack can say it will “strengthen the spirits” of ideologically inclined “conservatives” and “traditionalists” who are think-skinned about the media pushing its diabolical agenda and react by turning their outrage against fellow Catholics (and the pope) instead of steeling their nerves to fight the world.

    I have said it before that I think too many Catholics who I am sympathetic to (self-styled conservatives or traditionalists) accept a peculiarly modern view borrowed from the sacralization of the state, especially recognizable in treating as gods those persons designated to represent the “state” (first absolute kings and now presidents). The result is treating the pope in his, quite appropriate, complete power and authority as Vicar of Christ as akin to a totalitarian dictator; i.e., they often want him to act as such.

  20. anilwang says:

    Overall I’ve come to believe that Pope Francis is trying his best to grow into the role of Pope as a loyal son of the Church.

    The key problem is that his choice of advisers (e.g. some on the G8) reek of the worst fruits of the Spirit of Vatican II. If he chose more orthodox advisers, I’d likely put my guard down. I hope that the reason for his choice is one of the following:

    (1) The advisers are a smoke screen to pull down the guard of the liberals and attempt by stealth to convert Cafeteria Catholics.

    (2) He’s using the Paul VI Humanae Vitae approach of surrounding himself with the opponents of what he wants to do, to understand their reasons better so he can adequately counteract their propaganda.

    I don’t think either of these approaches are wise since they cause a great deal of confusion (they certainly did in Humanae Vitae’s case), but I do recognize that there are some advantages. For instance, I doubt Humanae Vitae would have been as powerful if it didn’t have the Majority Report as a foil.

  21. mamajen says:

    Pope Francis is full of surprises! I trust him, and I expect we’ll have more (good) surprises in the future. I’m not familiar with the Italian rumor mill, but I’m inclined to believe this because it seems a rather obscure thing to fabricate.

    I love this pope.

  22. Praying4Mercy says:

    Given his follow through on his apparent opinion, I rejoice as I am sure do legions!!!
    Nevertheless, Indeed Deo Gratias! :-)

  23. benedetta says:

    I do agree to an extent to what Bruce Wayne says above. I certainly do not feel like I have to be defensive about the Pope. Nothing I have heard to date supports the ridiculous posturing on the part of dissenters who are dreaming a pipe dream, playing the media, hoping to boost their numbers in the pews, all manipulative agendas designed to pressure others. Not cool. Not the way to dissent in the Church. Not going to be successful. The media plays them right back and will never accurately report Church matters. As for boosting their numbers, it’s deceitful and uncharitable, basically a bribe and far from pastoral. People can see through that and see that they are being used. It only desires one’s salvation or ultimate well being to the extent that one supports the party line.

  24. excalibur says:

    I trust the Holy Spirit. Yes, Francis made a few remarks in interviews which were seized upon not merely by modernists but by far too many conservative bloggers as well. I would like to see the modernists seize on this! Rather, some may have had seizures.

  25. Wonderful, Wonderful news. Thank You Father Z.

    But… Not to be too nit picky, but I was a bit disappointed in your translation, not an “Egregious Archbishop Marchetto” to be found! :)

  26. JoseTomas says:

    @benedetta: “I certainly do not feel like I have to be defensive about the Pope.”

    For my part, I did feel like having to defend Francis, not from the Libs but from the RadTrads instead. And my current schadenfreude is, again, not against those poor misguided libs but against Rad Trads, who should know better, and have been giving a very sad example of lack of Faith. With this piece of news, I few that those of us who have been defending Francis against the nasty calumnies leveled against the Pope (!!!) – “Heretic! Liberal!! Modernist!!!” – you all know the rant – we can feel vindicated. But it is a pyrrhic victory anyway, since most of them will probably do what they have been doing for months. Look the other way, ignore the good news and go on looking for commas and semicolons from papal “quotations” in NYT editorials to say “Seeeeee????? He’s a Mooooodernisssstttt!!!! Kyrie Eleeeeeeeeeeeison!!!!!Saint Lefeeeeeebvre ora pro nooooooobis!!!!” blah blah blah yawn.

    The only people with whom Jesus had little patience were the Pharisees.

    The best think that the guys at Rorate could have done was to close their combox, which had become near occasion of sin for several groups of people, myself included. Kudos to them for having been the first to break out this news in English. Kudos also to Fr. Z for not letting this deterioration happen here.


    Now on a positive note: Is it not these kind of reactions that Francis (and the Holy Spirit) is looking for? Just look at the Tweet of the first young lady in the list.

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  28. James Joseph says:

    Correct me if I am wrong. Did not the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate print a tome taking the Boloney School to task? If memory serves me right, it was printed in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

    Again… I cannot remember.

  29. mamajen says:

    Is The Bologna School named after the place, or what people think of it? [Yes.]

  30. benedetta says:

    JoseTomas, I suppose you are right. Dissenters apply pressure. That is what they do. Like I said, wherever situated. However I will say that the statements by/from or in the media engineered/supported by/from the dissenting prochoice & gay marriage all the time ‘catholic’ crowd are real whoppers when you compare their distortion/propaganda/fluff and puff with what the Pope really has said. Whereas from what I have seen the other crowd, to some extent, not completely or always, shows more careful analysis. When you have to pretty much spin and restate what the Pope says such that it doesn’t make sense in terms of the magisterium or his actual statements, that is dishonest dissent. And when you have to enlist the already anti-Catholic bigoted media to achieve your designs, you’ve already lost in terms of souls.

  31. Priam1184 says:

    I personally think that Vatican III, or Nicaea III, or wherever you want to hold it would be a great idea. And it would not turn out even remotely like certain people think it would.

  32. Bruce Wayne says:

    Jose Tomas,

    Those reactions you link to are nice. I definitely like the second part of your thought that this could be in part something the Holy Spirit sought in a Francis pontificate.

    I think you give me a chance to make the comment, though, that Francis is probably for the most part just doing the best he can and being himself every day. I am sure his life is incredibly busy, the demands on his time and the demands of his schedule as pope have to blow away what he had even experienced before as a bishop in general. I think that an aspect of what I was saying above is that there is a tendency to over-analyze and also subject popes (and bishops) to evaluation based on our whims and wishes that is just counter-productive for our lives as faithful Catholics. I likened it above to the treating of presidents as god-like figures who will fulfill our every whim. I think their is more wisdom in the tradition of the crying room for newly elected popes to have some time to pray and come to terms with the great burden that has been placed upon them.

    Like Fr. Z says, if you want to get riled up then wake me up when he actually formulates a decree ex cathedra to change doctrine. I would prefer to assume that isn’t going to happen and save my shock and concern for when it does (if it ever does).

    I am glad people seem to be calmer now on the traditionalist/conservative side of things. I hope that continues to be the case.

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  34. StWinefride says:

    With Francis, there is no mincing of words. You know where he stands…”

    He certainly understands Marian Theology:

  35. Blaise says:

    I think in England most Catholics are firmly indoctrinated into the Vatican II as rupture thinking and many genuinely expect that the Church will bow to prevailing thinking; therefore many of them do expect Pope Francis to change Church teaching on a whole manner of things. It would not be difficult to find an English Catholic who considers the Pope could easily allow women priests.
    These are the same Catholics who have been “consulted” in advance of next year’s synod but find the questions so difficult they think you need a degree in theology to answer them.
    For them it will make no difference that the Pope has publically signalled a disagreement with the Bologna school, because that will be meaningless. Unless Pope Francis specifically states that Vatican II needs to be interpreted through a hermeneutic of continuity, it will be presumed by many in England that he does not agree with Pope Benedict but rather like all “right thinking” people thinks the Church only began in 1965.
    Of course there are English Catholics who see things differently.

  36. SimonDodd says:

    Bruce Wayne says: “Like Fr. Z says, if you want to get riled up then wake me up when he actually formulates a decree ex cathedra to change doctrine.” Right, because only an ex cathedra pronouncement makes any difference to anything, which is why Jesus founded the Church and ascended, and then nothing at all happened for around 1850 years, and then nothing happened for another century, and then nothing has happened since. “Reformation?” Ex Germania semper aliquid novi; wake me when there’s an ex cathedra statement. Right?

    kpoterack says: “I wonder if Archbishop Marchetto will be made a cardinal?” That would be an action rather than a word, and Francis does seem to enjoy talking.

    anilwang says: “The key problem is that his choice of advisers (e.g. some on the G8) reek of the worst fruits of the Spirit of Vatican II. … I hope that the reason for his choice [might be that he’s] …
    using the Paul VI Humanae Vitae approach of surrounding himself with the opponents of what he wants to do, to understand their reasons better so he can adequately counteract their propaganda.”

    And how did that work out for Paul? Is it unfair to say that, having alienated high-church Catholics, Paul alienated low-church Catholics with Humanæ vitæ, dying as the most scorned and loathed pope of the twentieth century—scorned and loathed for different reasons by different groups, but nevertheless. Is that an unfair assessment, and if not, why would anyone think his reign a model?

  37. Robbie says:

    Since no topic has been started, it’s interesting to learn the Scalfari interview has been taken down from the Vatican website. Lombardi denied rumors it had been done so at the request of Mueller.

  38. Robert of Rome says:

    I looked, but I failed to find any mention of the Letter of Pope Francis to Archbishop Marchetto over at the National Schismatic Reporter (aka “Fishwrap”). [WHAT?!? Say it ain’t so!] Do you think I missed it? I would have thought they’d have covered the story, since it is real news about the activities of the Pope, and they are so keen to cover his every speech and gesture. [All The News That Fits.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  39. mamajen says:

    The Twitter responses JoseTomas linked to are indeed wonderful. Add to that the recent news that “Pope Francis” was ranked the most talked about name on the internet in 2013, and I really think we are making strides.

    I know some people are worried and/or frustrated that much of the swooning is based on false premises circulated by the media. As far as I’m concerned, however, interest in the Catholic Church, no matter how it originates, is never a bad thing. If Pope Francis continues following through with excellent bishop appointments, and statements like this letter, very good things can happen. The Church is not a democracy. With good bishops in place keeping their priests in line, instead of kowtowing to parishioners and their money, it doesn’t matter so much what lay people think. I have liberal friends who have stuck by me for years and years because, I guess, there is something about me that they like. I haven’t had to change my beliefs or hide them in order to maintain the friendship, nor would I.

    Yes, a lot of these “fans” will drop off like flies when they figure out that Pope Francis really is a “son of the Church”. The same thing happened to Jesus–not everyone who followed him around did so for the right reasons. Some people were just curious about him the way people today are curious about celebrities. A lot of those people, though, ended up converting.

  40. robtbrown says:


    IMHO, the advisers were likely chosen for geographic reasons. I don’t think this is any kind of smokescreen by the pope, nor do I think that Pell is a doctrinal or liturgical liberal.

    1. There is the notion that the present structure of the Curia (from Paul VI) that puts the Sec of State between everyone and everything has isolated the pope: The Dictatorship of the Secretariat. The pope has become a prisoner of the Vatican. I was told that, sitting in his office, Benedict said to Abp Fellay: My authority ends at the door.

    2. There is also the notion that Rome has no interest in the problems that confront most bishops and priests. And it is not merely the Divorced-Remarried Communion problem but also the priest shortage, and the docility of the faithful to contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage. There is the notion among bishops and priests that Rome’s response has been little else than to have a stiff upper lip in these troubled times.

    3. IMHO, there’s more than a little bit of unreality on both sides. For many reasons Rome seems dedicated to the present situation. One reason is inertia: I have it on good authority that Benedict actually wanted a reform of the reform, but that Cardinal Cañizares wasn’t interested. Another is that the vernacularization of the Church facilitates diplomatic relations between the Vatican and secular govts. And then there is the Elephant of Inculturation in the room: How should the Church react to contemporary secular culture–contraception, abortion, homosexual unions?

  41. mburduck says:

    Ditto: if this news turns out to be true it will be time for a scotch (Balvenie? Aberlour? Both? In moderation, of course) and a cigar (one of the “world’s finest,” perhaps?).

    Great posts by mamajen, by the way!

  42. mamajen says:


    WOW–that link is fantastic!

  43. mamajen says:

    Thank you, mburduck.

  44. anilwang says:

    robtbrown says: “IMHO, the advisers were likely chosen for geographic reasons.”

    The problem is, some of the advisers (especially the head of the G8) are far from the most orthodox and even have a poor track record WRT scandals in the Church. If their purpose is to inform the Pope of local conditions, they’d likely provide a distorted picture to the Pope and use their positions to sew confusion (as Cardinal Marx and Cardinal Maradiaga). Unless the Pope is a really poor judge or character or he delegated the choice of the G8 to someone else with an agenda, I don’t think the Pope chose them by accident or ignorance and I do think he is shrewd enough to have a plan, even if it’s none of the above and its just Michael Corleone’s (God Father II) strategy of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

  45. wolfeken says:

    Okay, so just the rest of the world thinks the current pope is a liberal and has said and done a zillion radically modernist things since March.

    At what point will Pope Francis address this universal perception?

    Here now we have a world leader thanking the pope for his modernism. To his face. With no correction:

    [I wouldn’t get too worked up by comes out of an Italian Communist politician. It’s a goat rodeo over there.]

  46. SimonDodd says:

    robtbrown I find it impossible to conceive of the idea that the pope wants to do something and the curia says “no.” When you say that “Benedict actually wanted a reform of the reform, but … Cardinal Cañizares wasn’t interested,” I just find that incredible; what did that conversation look like?

    B16: “We’re going to reform the novus ordo, Antonio.”
    ACL: “I’m not interested in that.”
    B: “Well, okay, you’re not interested, but I am, and I’m the pope, so jump to it.”
    L: “I’m sorry, Holy Father, I was trying to be diplomatic. What I meant was, I’m not willing to do that.”
    B: “Well, okay, I’m sorry, Antonio, but I wasn’t asking, I was telling. so you’re fired. Cardinal-red is for closers. Pack your desk and get out. Cardinal Burke?”
    RB: “Yes, Holy Father?”
    B16: “We’re going to reform the novus ordo, Prefect Burke.”

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  48. MikeM says:

    On Francis’ “G8” selection, I think that the whole idea of forming the G8 was to basically put an end to the whining about Vatican bureaucracy. He picked people from different factions that were critical of church governance under Benedict, and people who are middle-of-the-road enough that they’d be difficult to marginalize. That way, should people try to derail Francis’ papacy with their complaints, he can point to his advisers to shut them up.

  49. Robbie says:

    What was written is certainly better than the alternative, but I think some are getting a bit too excited over this. It’s just one comment and a good one at that. I hope we hear and read more of this in the coming months, but we also need to concern ourselves with what the so called “vice pope” Cardinal Maradiaga said in Dallas a few weeks ago.

    Without a doubt, Maradiaga spoke of a modernist agenda in which the Church truly becomes a social justice operation with a crucifix on top. Now, I know the Pope has said on more than one occasion the Church can’t become a spiritual NGO, but someone needs to relay that idea to Cardinal Maradiaga.

    It certainly seems, after two bad interviews, the Pope has decided less is more. Now, it’s time for these “super Cardinals”, I don’t like the term, to do the same.

  50. Bruce Wayne says:


    I don’t follow your counter-argument above.
    Bruce Wayne says: “Like Fr. Z says, if you want to get riled up then wake me up when he actually formulates a decree ex cathedra to change doctrine.” Right, because only an ex cathedra pronouncement makes any difference to anything, which is why Jesus founded the Church and ascended, and then nothing at all happened for around 1850 years, and then nothing happened for another century, and then nothing has happened since. “Reformation?” Ex Germania semper aliquid novi; wake me when there’s an ex cathedra statement. Right?

    Are you saying that the Reformation was Pope Leo X’s fault or something? You seem to think that dogmatic statements only started when Vatican I defined papal infallibility? What do you think it takes to change doctrine? Apparently all sorts of things make “a difference to anything” so naturally we should freak out over, well, anything?

  51. kpoterack says:

    I think the main “take-away” from this letter is that Pope Francis enthusiastically supports someone who has excellent views on the hierarchical structure of the church and impeccable credentials on the hermeneutic of continuity. And Pope Francis is “the man,” after all. Archbsp. Marchetto’s views are ultimately the pope’s views, too. Francis is the one who will make decisions on curial reform, the functioning of the synod, etc. Whatever the views of some of his advisors (and I do stress “some,” Marx, Maradiaga), he was elected supreme pontiff and not them. Francis will make the final decisions.

    Of course, a pope can make unfortunate prudential decisions, so I think that Pope Francis especially needs our prayers in the coming year or so. We’re not out of the woods, yet. However, I think that we can breathe a major sigh of relief, now. Not only his heart, but his MIND is definitely in the right place.

    I think that one of the reasons some of us have felt so much tension is that we knew Cardinal Ratzinger for almost a quarter of a century before he was elected pope. We knew pretty much where he stood on everything. Cardinal Bergoglio, however, came out of nowhere and hardly had a paper trail at all.

    Of course, from the beginning, there was the MSM spin, but frankly Pope Francis himself would say some confusing things at times. This was why things got scary. Still, on a human level, I just couldn’t understand how this particular conclave could have really elected someone who would seemingly undo the work of the last two pontificates. Now, at least for me, I have my confirmation that they knew things about him that I, and many of us, didn’t. And God be praised for that!

  52. robtbrown says:

    SimonDodd says:

    robtbrown I find it impossible to conceive of the idea that the pope wants to do something and the curia says “no.” When you say that “Benedict actually wanted a reform of the reform, but … Cardinal Cañizares wasn’t intereA sted,” I just find that incredible; what did that conversation look like?

    Why do you think he’s not living in the Papal Apartments? One big reason is that once he’s there, he’s isolated. The flow of information into his office and out of it is controlled by someone

    I wonder whether you are aware of how much resistance there was to the new English translation, which was a very small change. A priest friend told me some of the middle aged priests acted as if they were being asked to say mass standing on their heads. And keep in mind that a lot of priests object to another priest one mile away using the 1962 Missal. There still are priests and bishops misleading people about the content of Summorum Pontificum.

    That’s why there was little interest in the reform of the reform.

  53. SimonDodd says:

    Bruce, my point is to reject your premise that the only things that can happen of sufficient interest to get us “riled up” (or “concerned,” perhaps) are ex cathedra statements on doctrine, and if you are now broadening that argument to doctrin more generally (“What do you think it takes to change doctrine?”), I reject that premise, too. Things happen in the Church and the world that have nothing to do with doctrine and yet have a profound effect on her life, standing, and capacity to evangelize.

    To take one recent example, the abuse crisis had nothing to do with doctrine, but when it came to light, it and the response of the bishops scandalized hundreds of Catholics, and had the effect of compromising the moral authority of the bishops in the public square. Of think of the postconciliar aftermath: The liturgical crisis at no point involved a statement of doctrine from the popes, but papal action and inaction had an enormous effect on the Church. If you had an alarm clock set to wake you only in the event of doctrinal affairs, you would have missed all these events. If a pope changes not a jot of doctrine but nevertheless scandalizes and confuses many, that is nevertheless a concern.

  54. SimonDodd says:

    Rob, I take him at his word that the reason he’s not living in the papal apartments is because he wants to live in community. And your point about resistance to the corrected translation exemplifying resistance to reform of the reform is baffling, because I thought that your point earlier about resistance to the reform of the reform was that Benedict tried, ran into headwinds, and was thus thwarted, but the corrected translation was done notwithstanding the headwinds.

  55. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: “cardinal-red is for closers,” one should note that in his autobiography, then-Cardinal Ratzinger more or less said that one of the first things he learned about Rome was that he had to be very patient or nothing would get done. Pushing people made things stop completely, whereas letting one’s wishes be known and being patient made things happen (even if at what other countries would call a snail’s pace). Rome also made the good Cardinal slowly learn to master his temper. The problem in this system is that, if two powerful men let their wishes be known, or if one has wishes and the other drags his feet, things will get even slower and very little at all will get done.

    However, probably firing anybody outright is a very dangerous approach, because it makes a lot of people in the Curia nervous. There are probably people there, and not probably rich people, whose ancestors have been working for the Pope or the city of Rome since before Theodoric. Bureaucrats of this entrenched sort don’t like to see other bureaucrats getting fired. Also, when it comes to cardinals, there’s only so many spry old geezers whom you can claim have medical problems, or who are young enough to send to take over archdioceses.

    I think also that our previous pope would rather win people over, rather than send them away. It can be argued that the people around you are your responsibility to train and guide, and an ex-professor would be likely to feel that way. BXVI’s dad was a very fair man, and maybe fairer for having been himself unfairly disinherited in favor of his younger brother. That sort of background might make you reluctant to fire other people for disagreements over policy, if those people were otherwise doing good work.

    OTOH, there’s a reason that women aren’t allowed to be pope. If my mother were ever elected, I’m pretty sure she’d start by sending everybody home but the Swiss Guards. :)

  56. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Btw, there’s a Eucharistic miracle over at American Digest, underneath the baby picture. Like a lot of medieval accounts of miracles, it involves some inexplicable clueless behavior by humans (I think sometimes God causes this sort of brain typo in normally careful people) that is turned into wonder by Divine grace. It is edifying reading for those ready for it. (But I don’t want to see anybody leaving nasty comments if they aren’t prepared for the clueless bit, so I leave a warning.)

  57. SimonDodd, I believe robtbrown’s point is that the pope’s actual power to impose decisions–and, indeed, to remove curial officials who decline to implement them–is very limited. I recall a reply of Pope Pius XII, when asked why he was tolerating some minor official who was stymieing something the pope wanted done, to the effect that . . . After all, I’m only the pope, and have less real power to actually get things done than almost anyone around here [in the Vatican].

    In the case of the liturgy, I suspect that difficulty with which the new English translation was carried through made it seem clear that any real reform of the reform would be impossible at the present time. Lacking any inside information, it seems plausible that this might have been the CDW prefect’s position, that he himself lacked any power to get real reform actually carried out. (An old military adage–don’t issue an order which you can’t enforce.)

    More generally, the resistance and roadblocks that Benedict XVI encountered on every hand must surely have been a factor in his decision that someone more vigorous was needed in the papal chair to do the job. If everything had been going swimmingly, why would he have seen any necessity to resign?

  58. robtbrown says:

    SimonDodd says:
    Rob, I take him at his word that the reason he’s not living in the papal apartments is because he wants to live in community. And your point about resistance to the corrected translation exemplifying resistance to reform of the reform is baffling, because I thought that your point earlier about resistance to the reform of the reform was that Benedict tried, ran into headwinds, and was thus thwarted, but the corrected translation was done notwithstanding the headwinds.

    1. Once again: robt is an abbreviation for Robert. BTW, generally I try address someone here using their entire LID, if for no other reason than very often it’s not their name.

    2. Nothing I said contradicts what the pope said. It’s the nature of community that there be feedback and exchange of opinion. BTW, Papa Ratzinger was being informed of the situation in Germany by Gänswein, not by the Sec of State or any other member of the Curia.

    3. I’m afraid you missed the entire point of the liturgy example, which, as I said, was “a very small change”. In fact, I found it amusing how many pastors were shaken by it, mentioning it at all the masses, holding conferences, etc. I’ve even heard homilies saying that “consubstantial” and “one in being” are equally correct (they’re not–better not to have gone there).

    4. One bit of advice: Don’t confuse the way the Vatican is run with a business corporation.

    Most people I know thought it was no big deal.


  59. Priam1184 says:

    I don’t know why dissenting catholics would ever even want a Vatican III. Nothing would consign the ‘spirit of Vatican 2’ to the dustbin of history more than another Council to be called and for the Second Vatican Council to take its place as just another of the long line of ecumenical councils held by the Church in its long history. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

  60. GKH says:

    Francis is the Pope Without Borders.

  61. Therese says:

    Not just huge. Historic. What will happen next?

  62. Bosco says:

    I recall in 1968 when Iron Butterfly released their ‘In a Gadda da Vida’ cut the local DJ would slot that song up to play (17+ minutes if memory serves) when he had to run out for Twinkies or some other such diversion.
    I think I hear strains of Iron Butterfly in this Mount Rushmore-esque of postings from you Father Z. Respectfully…’nuff already.

    [I have no idea what any of that meant. I am not sure you do either.]

  63. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Bosco — This week, Fr. Z has only posted 4-5 posts a day. Four of them were postings reminding people to pray and give alms for the Philippines typhoon victims. Two of them were the weekly discussion of Mass prayers and good sermons people have heard. Most of the rest were comments on Catholic news items or daily news items of significance to Catholics.

    It is scarcely Fr. Z’s doing that there has been a busy news week, full of both calamities and good news. If Father has been full of enough energy to post on important topics, surely that is a good thing.

  64. SimonDodd says:

    Henry and Suburbanbanshee, it may well be the case that a mere cardinal must be patient, for he must live with whatever he finds. Perhaps this is true even of a cardinal-prefect; I don’t know how much hire-and-fire authority a prefect has. But “the Curia’s [is an] instrumental nature, described as a kind of agent in the hands of the Pontiff, with the result that it is endowed with no force and no power apart from what it receives from the same Supreme Pastor.” Pastor bonus, no. 7. “[I]t does not operate by its own right or on its own initiative. It receives its power from the Roman Pontiff and exercises it within its own essential and innate dependence on the Pontiff.” Id., no. 8. I find it inconceivable that an institution that exists for no purpose other than to by the “hand of the pope” has the capacity (let alone the moxie) to defy him. I would submit that a dicastery that is not faithfully reflecting the mens of the Supreme Pontiff is not “otherwise doing good work.”

    Robert, generally, I address people by their first name such cannot be discerned. I find that it produces a more cordial and productive atmosphere for discussions. If you prefer to be called by your “username,” I will try to remember that; for reference, please note that I prefer to be called by my name. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t post under it. And no one would confuse the way that the Vatican is run with the way a business is run—or that of a court or a railroad.

  65. Urs says:

    This was also the official letter to the FSSP on the occasion of their 25th anniversary given by the Apostolic Nuncio to France! I think that makes it VERY official! :)

    Holy Father’s message on the 25th anniversary of FSSP
    conveyed by Letter of the Apostolic Nuncio in France

    (an excerpt from the post)

    On the occasion of the 25th anniversary
    of the foundation of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter

    Pope Francis joins the thanksgiving of her members for the work accomplished in this quarter-century spent at the service of ecclesial communion cum Petro et sub Petro.

    It was in a moment of great trial for the Church that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter was created. In a great spirit of obedience and hope, her founders turned with confidence to the Successor of Peter in order to offer the faithful attached to the Missal of 1962 the possibility of living their faith in the full communion of the Church. The Holy Father encourages them to pursue their mission of reconciliation between all the faithful, whichever may be their sensibility, and this to work so that all welcome one another in the profession of the same faith and the bond of an intense fraternal charity.

    By way of the celebration of the sacred Mysteries according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and the orientations of the Constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as by passing on the apostolic faith as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, may they contribute, in fidelity to the living Tradition of the Church, to a better comprehension and implementation of the Second Vatican Council. [Emphasis added]

    The Holy Father exhorts them, according to their own charism, to take an active part in the mission of the Church in the world of today, through the testimony of a holy life, a firm faith and an inventive and generous charity.

    Entrusting to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Peter, apostle, all the pilgrims assembled in Lourdes or at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris to give thanks to the Lord on this occasion, the Holy Father grants them with open heart the Apostolic Benediction.

    Paris, October 28, 2013
    On the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

    + Luigi VENTURA
    Apostolic Nuncio

  66. Urs says:

    @Henry Edwards, you said,
    “If everything had been going swimmingly, why would he have seen any necessity to resign?”
    well, let’s see…at 85 years and 10+ months of age, the energy required, both mentally and physically, to properly and effectively hold the chair of Peter in this day and age MAY INDEED BE A VERY VALID REASON! (especially with WYD rapidly approaching) . Our time is like no other time in the history of the papacy or of the world. There is INSTANT global communications( often relaying crisis of monumental significance) from the Universal Church in EVERY part of the globe. We live in a world that is in continual flux , a world that is in continual states of political, spiritual , physical and material upheavals like no other time in history. The need for rapid responses in unprecedented. The ability to travel to all parts of the world is unprecented . The ability to communicate with or ‘be’ in any or all parts of the world via live interaction is unprecedented. There really is no comparison between the demands of the papacy today or what is required to be the head of the Universal Church today and any other time in history. There is nothing that has gone before that with which to compare. We live and walk through unchartered territory and unchartered times.. I think Pope Benedict’s decision was well thought out, realistic, extremely courageous and FULL OF HUMILITY! Of course, this is just my personal opinion…

  67. Alan Aversa says:

    School                  Should rupture exist?           Does it exist?

    Bologna school          yes                             yes

    Abp. Marchetto          no                              no
    (herm. of cont.)

    SSPX & sedevacantists   no                              yes

    ultra liberal?          yes                             no

    Is this the correct understanding of the various positions?

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