Wm. Oddie and Reading Francis Through Benedict

Over at the Catholic Herald, the UK’s best Catholic weekly, William Oddie has a piece in which he opines on the HUGE letter of support that Pope Francis send to Archbishop Marchetto.

You will recall that Archbp. Marchetto has been for years a critic of the so-called “Bologna School” of interpreting the Second Vatican Council.  In short, when you hear “Bologna School” think both of “discontinuity and rupture” and, well, the obvious sausage association.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, put in writing his support for Archbp. Marchetto and, with it, Marchetto’s opposition to the “Bologna School”.  Pope Francis wrote:

“I consider you the best hermeneutical interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.”

I would have added… “after Benedict XVI”, but… okay. Not bad.

Oddie wrote:

… With that declaration, with his open support for this book, and with the decision to make the text of his letter public, Pope Francis is making an explicit declaration of his own ecclesial position, which he clearly expects to be noted by all: viz that he supports Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and absolutely rejects the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II”. There can now be no question of writing off this Holy Father as a “liberal Pope”: not unless you are one of the weird eccentrics who attempts to do the same for Benedict XVI himself.


This declaration will not be noticed by the secular media: [Including the Fishwrap… aka National Schismatic Reporter.] and who cares? But it will be noticed by Hans Küng and his crew, and by the Tabletistas. The media will still respond positively to Pope Francis’s pastoral instincts and so should we all. We should also note the enthusiasm of many semi-lapsed Catholics: according to the Daily Mail, “After years of decline, cathedrals in Britain have seen a 20 per cent rise in congregations since the Argentinian Pope was elected as head of the Catholic Church eight months ago. And the ‘Pope Francis Effect’ is being felt across the world, with new and lapsed Catholics surging back to the confession box ‘by the hundreds or thousands’, according to the Italian Centre for Studies of New Religions. In Italy half of priests have noted a marked rise in support for the Church”. And so on. Even the sourest Francis-sceptic can hardly claim that all that is actually a bad thing: the worst they can say is that maybe it won’t last. But maybe some of it will. That growth in recourse to the confessional is particularly interesting: that looks serious, and potentially durable.

I ended my last post by saying that I was confident that “as the pontificate unfolds, [anxieties about Pope Francis] will become progressively calmer and then fade away. I think the Holy Father will pull it off.” My confidence in that outcome has just been given a major boost, by the Pope’s unambiguous endorsement of Archbishop Marchetto. This pontificate has just passed an important milestone.

I will part company on the last paragraph.

As the pontificate continues, anxieties about Francis with subside for some. For others, they will grow.  For liberals, they will grow.  Eventually libs will turn on Francis.  Imagine their anxiety growing as they come to the breaking point and start to attack him.  The more the gush over everything he does now, they harder it will be for them to reverse their direction.  Heh.

In any event, Oddie sounds like he subscribes to:




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. John UK says:

    The picture here (I’m sorry I do not know how to insert the picture) seems particularly apposite
    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. McCall1981 says:

    Great article!

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Liberals never have any problem doing a heelturn on somebody. They do it on other liberals all the time. They had no trouble doing it to Bl. JPII. So yeah, when Pope Francis becomes the source of all evil, it will happen swiftly and completely, and cause no detectable embarrassment to most former Francis-worshippers. (What happens in individual hearts may differ.)

    Of course, after he’s dead, Pope Francis will suddenly become a liberal again, if liberals find out that he’s beloved. Otherwise, he will remain totally evil.

  4. Priam1184 says:

    He is right about the Confessional. I started going back to Confession after about a twenty year lapse about 3 months before Benedict XVI resigned. I have tried to make it an every couple of week thing over the last two or three months and I have noticed that the lines are getting longer, quite a bit longer. So everybody GO TO CONFESSION and give Father so much business that he won’t have a choice but to allot more time for Confession.

  5. ray from mn says:

    The first five months of the reign of Pope Francis, particularly his extemporaneous interviews with the press on his airplane and with individual reporters made me very nervous. A careful reading of his comments gave me much ease but the particular words he used made easy pickings for dissident Catholic and secularists to pervert his thoughts. In a Church of one billion people with a leader watched closely by seven billion people, the Pope needs to have great precision in his statements so that they can’t be used to distort his thoughts.

    The last month has shown to me that Pope Francis is learning that. He is indeed my Pope and I thank God that he is here.

  6. Menagerie says:

    He is indeed my pope and I also thank God he is here, and I will respect the throne of Peter and trust God to be with us, even when a fallible pope says things I might or might not like. He isn’t going to make a billion people happy. He isn’t going to have everyone believe he is doing the right thing. Too many Catholics are a armchair popes.

  7. Lin says:

    Good news! However, other than penance services at Easter and Christmas, I never see a line at the confessional. And it is very difficult to get to confession because scheduled times are not convenient and/or are of very limited durations. And the bad news today was that our mall chapel is closing because a store will be renting the space. Believe it or not, the (shopping) mall chapel was very effective! I will be writing our bishop to see if this can be reopened somewhere.

  8. Michelle F says:

    I was one of the people who freaked out when Pope Francis was elected. I listened carefully to what he said over the months, and I never heard anything from him but pure Catholic doctrine.

    What really changed my perspective, however, was when he called for the day of fasting and prayer on 09/07/2013 to avert the war that was brewing between the US and Syria during the first week of September. That is not something a liberal-minded pope, or any liberal-minded clergyman, would do.

    I also watched the live broadcast of the penitential service in Rome, and I was deeply impressed to see that it centered on Exposition and Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Carrying the icon of Our Lady into St. Peter’s Square also was impressive.

    I thought carefully about all of that, and I saw that my fear of Pope Francis was based on the fact that I did not trust God. I did not trust the Lord to run the Church properly.

    I didn’t even know I had that lack of trust in God.

    Later I discovered this was not the first time Pope Francis responded to a problem by organizing a day of prayer and fasting. He did it at least once before in response to a blasphemous art exhibit in Argentina in 2004:


    That one also coincided with the vigil a Marian feast day (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), which just happened to coincide with the art show.

    I don’t know what the Lord is doing, but He is doing something big right now, and I am very happy that He has given us Pope Francis as our Holy Father! The more I see him and hear what he says, the happier I am! I just hope that other tradition-minded Catholics will also see him as an ally and a true gift from the Lord.

    Oh, and all of Pope Francis’ ties to Our Lady are pretty interesting too.

  9. Bosco says:

    The blogger Louie Verrecchio (Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II – see link below) has an altogether different take on the letter from Pope Francis to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto. I think it is supremely important that we be discerning before we gush over-much about any pronouncements/letters these days.


  10. kpoterack says:

    “The blogger Louie Verrecchio (Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II – see link below) has an altogether different take on the letter from Pope Francis to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto.”

    I read the link you provided and, based upon the blogger and almost all of the comments, the blog’s position seems to be that of the SSPX – even if they are not SSPX themselves. Pope Benedict himself was too liberal, from that blog’s perspective (as at least several of the commentators imply.). Well, OK, it’s a point of view. From that perspective, you are going to be unhappy almost all of the time in the contemporary Church. However, giving the ecclesiological perspective of JPII/B16 vs. the “Fishwrap,” it is starting to become much clearer that Pope Francis is firmly in the JPII/B16 camp. Something definitely to be happy about if not to gush.

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