Francis: Grandmother of the West, invoked, to open the great circle and then blasts at “traditionalists”.

At The Catholic Thing there is a summary piece abooot Francis’ trip to Canadia.  It starts:

“Well, that’s over.”

You can read it there.  It paints a rather pathetic picture and darns with faint praise, the point being that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been and certain aspects were surprisingly mediocre.

There were the usual cringe moments, like with the head dress.

Not only.

From Le Monde:

At the request of Raymond Gros-Louis, an “elder” from the Huron-Wendat Nation, Pope Francis, his retinue of cardinals and bishops, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Governor General of Canada Mary Simon all placed a hand on their hearts for a welcoming ceremony. Then, in keeping with tradition, this First Nations representative lit a “sacred fire” to “connect” with the four directions and the “four life elements.” He blew a whistle and asked “the grandmother of the West for access to the great sacred circle.” Thus began Pope Francis’ meeting with Canadian authorities on Wednesday, July 27, at the Citadel of Quebec, on the third day of the visit by the Catholic Church’s leader to the country.

“The grandmother of the West”? “Great circle”?

Then, in the inevitable airplane presser, he said something strange things (surprise) about changes of doctrine and tradition. Responding to an RNS (lib) question about changing the Church’s teaching about contraceptives, he danced a bit:

But know that dogma, morality, is always in a path of development, but development in the same direction.

He cited Vincent of Lerins a couple times.

At the same time, in his ramble, he used the word “change” in regard to the Church’s teaching the death penalty (which certain is NOT in keeping with Vincent’s admonition):

Then… and remember, he rambles and his answers seem sometimes like a bag full of cats, but this was in response to something about contraception and changing dogma:

A Church that does not develop its thought in an ecclesial sense is a Church that goes backwards. And this is the problem of so many who call themselves traditional today. They are not traditional, they are “indietrists,” they are going backwards without roots — “That’s the way it has always been done,” “That’s the way it was done in the last century.” Indietrism [looking backward] is sin because it does not go forward with the Church. And instead, someone described tradition — I think I said it in one of the speeches — as the living faith of the dead and instead for these “indietrists,” who call themselves “traditionalists,” it is the dead faith of the living.

Tradition is the root of inspiration to go forward in the Church, always these roots, and “indietrism,” looking backward, is always closed. It is important to understand well the role of tradition, which is always open like the roots of the tree. The tree grows like that, no. A composer had a very beautiful phrase — Gustav Mahler — said that tradition in this sense is the guarantee of the future, it is not a museum piece. If you conceive tradition as closed, this is not Christian tradition. Always it is the root substance that takes you forward forward forward. That’s why what you say above thinking, carrying forward faith and morals, while going in the direction of the roots, of the substance goes well with these three rules I mentioned of Vincent of Lerins.

I think many people who desire traditional Catholic worship will read this with increased alarm, as if it will bear much more increase. It is important to keep it in its context: airplane presser, and about contraception and other defined teachings – not liturgy. However, liturgy IS doctrine. Hence, you see the path of his thought. Does this apply to liturgy? Yes, and no. It is mostly a string of cliches in a context that makes no difference. Still, we get a glimpse of his thought.

I leave you will the image of the Francis and others invoking,

“the grandmother of the West for access to the great sacred circle”,

and wondering what Vincent of Lerins would have thought of that… “in keeping with tradition”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Philmont237 says:

    The last time he did this pagan nonsense COVID-19 was unleashed on the world. What fresh hell is going to happen now?

  2. Lurker 59 says:

    Seems to me to be a very traditional way to get oneself possessed.

  3. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    So does this mean we’re allowed to honour our grandmothers now?

  4. Legisperitus says:

    If we’re invoking the Grandmother of the West, does that mean we can use lace now?

  5. jdt2 says:

    May God forgive me if this is a sin, but I pay as much attention to the antics of Pope Francis, or what comes out of his mouth as I do Joel Osteen, Antonio Guterres, or Chuck Schumer for that matter. Equally confusing and upsetting however, is the thought that a voluntary action on the part of a man with the intellect of Joseph Ratzinger would have ultimately given us the Church leadership we are suffering under, regardless of how unconnected those two points are.

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    This National Catholic Register article might explain the grandmother reference:

    Pope Francis’ First Nations Pilgrimage Begins and Ends with St. Anne, the Church’s Grandmother

    I routinely cringe when I see that Pope Francis has once again spoken with reporters on a plane. It gives another meaning to the phrase “Air Disasters” (look for multiple Signs of the Cross in this excerpt from a rare episode that focuses on happy endings).

  7. DeeEmm says:

    I would like to draw you back in time to October 2019 and the happenings in the Vatican. Public idolatry! What did we have in the years since? Plague.

    We now have another display of public idolatry. God please forgive us!
    I tremble inwardly wondering what will follow. They flaunt their apostasy and we suffer the consequences. We must pray for them.

    I will leave you with another thought. If this is what these prelates engage in publicly. What do they do behind closed doors?

  8. Uniaux says:

    Odd that he would quote Mahler to say that tradition is not to be relegated as a museum piece while attempting to relegate the traditions to being museum pieces.

    And unsurprising that he didn’t say that the only direction the doctrines can go is towards greater clarity, since he has no love for clarity (except for where his disdain of the traditional Mass is concerned).

  9. Charles E Flynn says:


    Yours is an intriguing observation that recalls the crucial distinction between apologizing for for what one’s predecessors (in some sense) have done, which may make no logical sense, and what one has done, oneself.

    Ever since Pope Francis failed to clarify the Pachamama incident, I have considered him not even competent to pick out a toaster oven. I keep a reproduction of a classic icon of Christ Pantocrator my bed, to remind me of who is ultimately in charge.

  10. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “Always it is the root substance that takes you forward forward forward. That’s why what you say above thinking, carrying forward faith and morals,…” PF

    Perhaps one could put the word “progressive” in place of “forward” here. What was St. John’s warning about that?

    “Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9)

  11. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Once upon a time I scored 99th percentile on the GRE verbal section. And yet my reading comprehension is now so poor that when I look at a dozen or so sentences uttered by Pope Francis I have no ability whatsoever to follow his logic. I believe that I do understand his ultimate point quite well, however. It seems that doctrine is always developing — evolving– and it’s quite possible, for example, for the doctrine expressed in, say, Humanae Vitae to be developed and discerned to such a point that one reaches precisely the opposite conclusion than that of Paul VI. And that’s fine. That’s part of the great tradition of the Church: saying precisely the opposite of what your predecessor said a decade or five earlier. Uh huh.

  12. Jim says:

    How is it legitimate to call St Anne “the Church’s grandmother” ?

    The sense in which St Anne is the mother of the BVM, has the word “mother” being used in the proper, non-figurative sense: that is, St Anne is the maternal parent in the immediately preceding generation, to the BVM; who, therefore, came from her womb, as children of their mothers do.

    The sense in which the BVM is, and is called, “Mother of the Church”, is figurative, and not proper. For the Church did not proceed from the womb of the BVM, St Joseph did not beget the Church by the BVM; nor is the Church begotten of the BVM by the Holy Spirit.

    St Anne is in the proper sense the mother of the BVM.
    The BVM is in the proper sense the mother of the man Who is God the Word Incarnate.

    But the BVM is not, in the proper sense, the mother of the Church – as though the Church were the twin or other sibling of the Word Incarnate, or were numerically identical with Him.

    The relation between St Anne and the BVM is the biological and human relation of mother to daughter, because both are human creatures, existing in the same order of nature.
    The relation of the BVM to the Church is a metaphysical & theological relación of a human creature to a Divinely-founded supernatural society, in the order of grace.

    In short: the sense in which St Anne is the mother of the BVM, and the sense in which the BVM is the mother of the Church, is different. The sense of the term “mother” is changed from one case, to the other; thereby leading to the fallacy of equivocation.

    Seeing as the term “mother” is used in different senses, according as it is used to apply to St Anne or the BVM, it is inappropriate and misleading to call St Anne “Grandmother of the Church”. Confusion has no place in theology, one of the tasks of which is, to expose it and remedy it. Theology ought, indeed, to be one of our chief weapons against confusion of thought.

  13. Bret Ramsey says:

    I wonder if Jesus is an Indietrism because according to Hebrews – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Things that make you go hmm.

  14. Charles E Flynn says:


    Thank you for providing high-quality food for thought and contemplation.

  15. mo7 says:

    It’s not really going backward if the the thing you’re talking about was never changed in the first place. Contraception has always been outlawed,; the traditional liturgy never abrogated. How are we going backward again? Only vis-a-vis the world, not the Church.

  16. APX says:

    I found it interesting he never celebrated Mass while he was here. He gave a homily, but he was vested in surplice and cope while other bishops concelebrated Mass.

  17. Benedict Joseph says:

    The best that can be said of the last week is that it was a painful mortification. More accurately it was a grotesque obscenity.

  18. TonyO says:

    The grandmother of the West

    This came to mind:

    The “Old Mother West Wind” stories. Fairy tales. Not something you light “sacred fires” to, and ask for assistance. The pope is in his dotage if he can’t tell the difference between fairy tales and worship of God. (And someone should prevent him from playing with matches, in that case.)

    I know that a pope doesn’t oversee the details of these kinds of events. But he darn well appoints aides who do (or should). And the fact that these aides think it’s OK to sign off on something like this proves the problem with the guy who appointed them. Sorry, Frankie, but the buck stops with you.

  19. TonyO says:

    By the way: Have you noticed how often, in the last 18 months, the pope’s off-the-cuff comments have focused on traditionalists? There are 50 grave problems in the Church that need major papal attention, and THIS is what smolders on his mind constantly? They guy’s priorities are clear in this: to heck with all those other problems. It’s the 1% traddies who need to be “dealt with”, not the 99% of dreadful masses, the 99% of heretical “catholic” colleges, the 99% of degenerate bishops, etc. Even if traddies were wrong in loving Tradition, his inattention to the vastly larger problems is mind-boggling.

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  21. redneckpride4ever says:

    The libs give us over 50 years of regression and say we’re the ones going backwards?

    That’s like saying you tossed moldy marinara sauce on a hot fudge sundae and improved your dessert.

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  23. JonPatrick says:

    Concerning “going backward”. If you are driving from Boston to New York and you find that you took a wrong turn and are now on I-91 North headed to Vermont, the logical thing to do is to make a U turn and start heading South on the road that you are on. Yes you may “go backward” for a little while until you get caught up to where you should have been all along.

  24. Georgemartyrfan says:

    Indietrism – I’m not a linguist, but I am having a hard time finding a definition for this. Is it portuguese?

    [It’s a neologism, macaronic: “indietro” means “backwards” in Italian. So, “backwardism”.]

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