Concerning the “bipolar pontificate”

For some years now, Andrea Gagliarducci has issued a weekly news/analysis column called Monday Vatican.   This week is a must read.  HERE


Pope Francis and the paradox of the Council


Pope Francis wants to be the Pope who puts the Council into practice.


For [secretary of the Council of Cardinals, Bp Marco] Mellino, the fact that the laity can cooperate in government means they can take part in the government that the bishops take part in by vocation.

This interpretation is widely contested. Before the Consistory, interventions on the subject by cardinals Antonio Rouco Varela, Marc Ouellet, and even Walter Kasper had been disseminated. Everyone questioned that this decision to centralize everything in the hands of the Pope ultimately, even the distribution of power, was in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

Even the historian Alberto Melloni had denounced the anti-conciliar turn of Pope Francis, who, instead of delegating, increasingly centers his powers on himself.


[I]t was the Second Vatican Council that, intending to return to the sacramental nature of the Church, defined that the sacred powers of the bishops, even before being jurisdictional, concerned not only those of sanctifying and teaching but also that of governing.


Also, this is paradoxical if we consider that Pope Francis wants to link everything to the correct reception of the Second Vatican Council. Indeed, the Pope is particularly ferocious on these issues, especially regarding the liturgy.

The Traditionis Custodes, which cancels all the concessions made on the celebration of the ancient rite, was justified by the Pope as the need to apply the Council, and with the emphasis that the Council must be received in every part because it is the life of the Church.

If this is the way of thinking, what is one to think of the consequences of the Praedicate Evangelium? Can’t the Constitution itself jeopardize the reception of the Council?

It may be easy to argue that liturgy and government are very different issues. But however different they are, the underlying principle remains the same. In the end, there is a contradiction.

This contradiction, after all, pervades many actions of Pope Francis’ pontificate. There is an impulsive Pope and a less impulsive Pope, like two sides of the same coin, which create a fluid and bipolar pontificate and, therefore, one difficult to interpret.


Now, the Second Vatican Council is the guideline of every inspection, every provision, even harsh ones by the Pope. Yet it is profoundly questioned on one of its foundations by an apostolic constitution written “by trial and error,” and with the awareness that it will have to be substantially amended.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has decided to bring his cardinals together to present them with a fait accompli.


The Consistory, after all, was a “noncistory.” It is a college that seems more to be an electoral committee than an actual advisory body of the Pope, though many said that the discussion in the groups were lively and free and that nobody felt pressures. Indeed, there is almost a fear of speaking openly.


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  1. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    for many years my mother was on the county Board of Canvassers. Their job was to certify the election. Composed of two Republicans and two Democrats, they checked the integrity of the ballot boxes and, if there was a call for a recount, they handled the recount – up to an including making decisions on unclear ballots (the famous “hanging chads” of the Florida recount in 2000 being case in point).

    It almost seems as if the Cardinals are being twisted into some sort of Board of Canvassers rather than Electors in their own right. One wonders if, at the next conclave, they will be presented with the candidate already chosen in advance by the “real authorities” and be asked to certify that selection, rather than really elect.

  2. matt from az says:

    As an undergraduate I was the protege of one of Marcuse’s protege—making me effectively Marcuse’s intellectual grandson. I mention this because I thought I’d left it all behind when I rejoined the Catholic Church. However, I am now confronted with a pope far more radical than any of my late professors. It’s disconcerting to say the least, and I find it even more painful that—despite having been raised deep in Critical Theory—neo-cons and other Papaloters claim that I have no idea what I’m talking about when I criticize the pope for having more in common with Gramsci than with St Ignatius Loyola.

    To put a fine point on it: the papaloters are morons and doing the Marxists’ dirty work for them.

    I recognize everything that P Francis does as the act of a Cultural Marxist and deconstructionist. I think it was Stanley Fish who wrote an essay, “Is there a text in this class?” and I often ask the same question about Francis’s reading of Vatican II documents. He deconstructs them to the point that one has to ask, “Is there a text in this Council?”
    One of the hallmarks of post-modernism/deconstructionism is that the Law of non-Contradiction doesn’t exist. Contradictions are not only acceptable, but praiseworthy.

    The problem is that there is only one solution to dealing with this problem: violence. When the deconstructionist says there’s no such thing as reality, he must be punched in the face to prove him wrong. There is no arguing sensibly with some people, whether it is a Lollard, Husserite, some other kind of old heretic or one of the new Marxian heretics. The only solution is punishment and sometimes capital punishment. Because if you don’t stop them in their tracks, they will kill you. I have an entire 20th century’s worth of proof of that.

    Catholics, you better find a stomach of iron because the fight for the soul of the Church must come to blows. There is no other way. If you think I’m exaggerating, you just don’t get it.

    [A good deal of what you say here is on target. Yes, it looks like the “other side” is deconstructing the Council to the point of meaninglessness. Yes, I think it likely that the “papaloters” are filling the role of “useful idiots” for very powerful and shadowy sources. Yes, many highly visible Jesuits seem to have more in common with Gramsci than Ignatius. Yes, I think that it is time to have the fight. However, the fight that has to be had, unless if comes down to literal self-defense or defense of innocent neighbor, is first and foremost of fight against ideas… actually “notions” which are bad ideas… and our weapons are prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the content of 1 Peter 3:15 and resistance and reclamation of sacred liturgical worship, which is the core of the virtue of religion and the sine qua non of renewal. There are elements of your comment that ring of Marcuse to the point of sounding rather like your fellow student under him, Angela Davis.]

  3. WVC says:

    What I have found distressing and personally demoralizing is how many Catholics, even among those who love the TLM, are so invested in this cult of hyperpapalism that they still cannot bring themselves to even consider the idea that there can be legitimate limitations to papal authority. It’s as if the idea of the Pope NOT being a totally and irrefutably SUPER-authority in ALL things is a direct attack on their Faith. To even attempt to discuss the idea gets me branded as a schismatic and worse. And this is among TLM Catholics! These types truly believe “The Pope, Right or Wrong” and are willing to throw anyone under the bus who dares impeach the honor of either the Pope or any bishop/cardinal. This is what one gets from growing up imbibing on nothing but Hallmark Channel style saints stories. This is why sentimentalism is such a serious evil. I truly hate the “Church of Nice.”

    Meanwhile, the mentality amidst all the restrictions against the TLM which are going into effect is “We’re gonna comply so hard it’ll make their heads spin! That’ll show ’em!! And then in two years they’ll HAVE to be nice to us!” And if one suggests that things will not necessarily be better in two years but might be worse and we should all prepare ourselves for a long, protracted fight – well, then one must apparently not have any Faith and doesn’t enjoy suffering for Our Lord!

    Oy vay.

  4. Mike says:

    Matt: Very good points. I agree. We could ask, “Is there a Gospel in this homily?”

  5. surritter says:

    But… we were all told in 2013 that he’s so humble.

  6. TonyO says:

    Bipolar indeed. One might also use the term “two-faced”, even if it is a rather high-temperature adjective.

    What I have found distressing and personally demoralizing is how many Catholics, even among those who love the TLM, are so invested in this cult of hyperpapalism that they still cannot bring themselves to even consider the idea that there can be legitimate limitations to papal authority.

    WVC, while I too have been distressed by those who cannot bring themselves to think the pope might make a mistake, or even be a bad pope, I have a question for you: in what way are we to rightly interpret all of the Vatican I and later doctrinal statements of the Church on the fullness and primacy of the pope’s authority? I agree with you that there ARE limits on his authority – e.g. he cannot increase or decrease the number of sacraments – but coming to a determination (on your own cognizance and not that of your bishop) that the pope has stepped beyond those limits in a particular juridic act is not easy to do: While it is relatively easy to see how TC, to take but one example, is very poor law, it is less easy to state how any one specific constraint TC makes is something that could not, even in principle be a reasonable law, in some grave set of circumstances or other.* And if it COULD be a good or even plausible law in SOME case, then we are forced to rely on our own judgment that it is bad law in THESE circumstances today. And that’s just the crux of the problem: the whole nature of law and obedience to an authority is that the common good requires that the many subordinate their actions to the prudential decision of the one in authority, foregoing their own views on the best course to take (in acting). Once we refuse to submit to the pope on a matter of prudential judgment merely because he has made some really bad choices, how are we different from Protestants.

    I don’t ask these questions because I don’t think we MUST obey the pope in everything, but because I don’t see where to draw the line. And that’s an important line to draw.

    *As an example of a constrictive law that generally would be odd and one might think is difficult to justify: If in the earliest days of the Church people usually or often received Communion under both species, and then along came a heresy that one MUST receive under both species, in that case the Church might impose a rule that we generally receive under one species only, in order to emphasize the error in the heresy. But absent that heretical view spreading, such a constraint would seem to be, if not outright idiotic, at least an excessively restrictive law that “makes no sense”. The point is that even laws that are rightly viewed as very dubious in the abstract might be reasonable in some specific circumstance, and this represents just the sort of prudential determination that is why there is one with AUTHORITY to rule, and bind the people to obey his judgment.

    But… we were all told in 2013 that he’s so humble.

    surritter, good point. I hope very, very much that (as matters currently stand), the next pope not only doesn’t begin proceedings to beatify Francis, but actively quashes the idea as ridiculous. Even apart from his politics and his rule of the Church, nothing about Francis’ behavior strikes me as imbued with the visible aura of sanctity that one gets from many saints.

    I am extremely uncomfortable with the current situation where the pope is pushing strongly toward the canonization of EVERY SINGLE pope of Vatican II, while leaving the canonization of pre-Vatican II popes to languish and falter. I don’t have any information that supports or detracts from the cause of John Paul I, but the fact that there was effectively no common discussion of his sanctity in the last 40 years makes me worry that this beatification was a largely political move.

  7. Dave P. says:

    matt from az:

    I took two courses in postmodern literary theory in college. Two things tip me off regarding this papacy’s approach:

    1) The ultimately meaningless word salad, and
    2) the use of raw power.

    In the words of Stan Lee: ’nuff said.

  8. kurtmasur says:

    @matt from az: did you mean to say the Hussites?

    Otherwise, what a thought provoking post. The likes of Bergoglio need some form of correction, starting with a fraternal one, which he still hasn’t received (to the best of my knowledge), and then the correction would have to be escalated to something along the lines of what you propose.

  9. Not says:

    What I find the most interesting is the Pope is responsible SPIRITUALLY , for every soul in the world. Sending missionaries to all four corners of the earth to try to save their souls. Instead the Pope is attacking the faithful, promoting heretical behaviors and welcoming world leaders who are anti Catholic and not publicly admonishing them. Instead, they are posing for selfies.

  10. WVC says:

    @TonyO – I believe it is reasonable to posit there are authentic limits to the Pope’s authority without having to reject his jurisdiction over the entire Church in terms of Faith, Morals, and Discipline. I think we both agree that there are, definitely, limits to that authority (as you said, the Pope could not create a new Sacrament, nor could he suppress an existing Sacrament, he cannot change established doctrine, even if he gussies up the change with obviously false language about “development” . . .etc.) If the Pope attempts to take an action that exceeds his authority, it would be null and void.

    So the question is how does one determine those limits. Honestly, I don’t think this will be clearly defined for a long time yet (we’re probably in the middle of what will be looked upon as that “tumultuous time in Church History when they clarified the doctrine of Papal Authority”), but there are some reasonable conclusions to propose. And, so far as I can tell from reading and re-reading documents from Vatican I, none of this contradicts that Council’s teaching on Papal Authority.

    Regarding TC, the question is can the traditional Roman Rite be considered a mere discipline, or, due to it’s 1,600+ years of liturgical tradition backed by universal recognition and multiple papal affirmations, is the Roman Rite a part of Sacred Tradition and intrinsically integrated with the Deposit of Faith to which the Pope has a primary obligation to protect? No pope has attempted to abolish the Roman Rite (even Paul VI did not directly attempt to suppress or abolish it, as was determined by then Cardinal Ratzinger and others who investigated the matter). I think it’s reasonable to claim no pope could possibly have the authority to suppress or abolish the traditional Roman Rite. History has indicated that those changes which were made to it via papal decree were accidental and not substantial, and even TC basically posits that Paul VI’s missal is a new (Novus Ord) and separate Rite, not just a change to the pre-existing Roman Rite.

    So if we’re dealing with the destruction/suppression of a 1,600 year old liturgical rite, by what precedent can we know that this falls within Papal authority? Is the counter-argument that the Pope can make any change he wants to to any liturgy in the Church and it must be obeyed? If he ordered all priests to offer Mass only in harlequin make up, would that be a legitimate order? If he said Masses in Japan can only be offered if they use the Korean language, would that fall under his authority? If not, why not? And the answer can’t be “no reasonable Pope would do that” because Francis (as well as many other examples from history) have shown that very unreasonable men can be Pope.

    If one of the primary obligations of the Church and the Pope and all Catholics is to carry forward the Deposit of Faith, can it be licit to intentionally destroy the vessel by which that Deposit of Faith was carried up to the present?

    Many doctrines in the Church were not defined at first because they were just assumed to be true, and it wasn’t until someone promoted an error that the Church provided clarification. I would say that, prior to Vatican II, no sane Catholic even considered the idea that a Pope would try to abolish the Roman Rite or attempt to replace it with a completely new, committee-fabricated concoction. Hence, it’s not surprising to find nobody seeing the need to spell out, in writing, that a Pope does not have the authority to suppress the Roman Rite.

    Contra Cardinal Roche, I don’t think opposing a Pope who is trying to suppress the Roman Rite makes one a Protestant. It’s not a matter of mere prudential judgment – it’s an appeal to the most fundamental aspect of being Catholic – Tradition and the Deposit of Faith.

    The constrictive justification that has been given to justify this attempted suppression is to promote “unity” in the Church. Unlike your example, unity is not an easily defined heresy or problem. Practically everything that has been said to define what this unity is or how the celebration of the TLM impinges it has been, to any reasonable observer, contradictory or non-sensical. At some point, the cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity must have some recourse to determine that which is reasonable from that which is unreasonable. Otherwise, you can pretty much justify everything and anything by just saying, “Because of Climate Change” or “Because of fighting poverty.”

    Yes, pushing back against authority making restrictive laws that “make no sense” is messy. So is Church history. At some point folks were trying to figure out how to make sense of 3 different “popes” and at another point folks were trying to navigate a French controlled pope and sometimes they had 3+ popes in a single year and then one time a pope dug up his predecessor’s corpse and threw it in the Tiber . . .etc. I think, to some degree, we modern men have had it so easy under the long, relatively stable papacies of JPII and then Benedict VXI that we’ve forgotten how scary, risky, and messy actually living our Faith can be. It’s not the norm to have the easy answer all worked out for us, gleaming on a platter, just waiting for us to pick it up. At the time, did St. Athanasius know without doubt that he was going to make a difference and that he would be a linchpin by which orthodoxy would be saved. Or St. Cyril when he fought Nestorius?

    Considering the long string of good to great to at least “Ok” popes we’ve had since Vatican I, it’s no wonder that we haven’t had to deal with these problems tied to authority. Now that someone like Pope Francis is trying to literally change Church teaching on the Faith (c.f. death penalty, communion for divorced & remarried) and suppress the Roman Rite, we have the opportunity to study, understand, and shore up the underside of the doctrine regarding Papal Authority and Infallibility. God grant us good men and scholars (saintly men, even) to take on the challenge and help pave the way.

  11. WVC says:

    @TonyO – of course, I should have mentioned that Dr. Kwasniewski has approached this entire issue from the other end in his short but well researched and footnoted “True Obedience in the Church” where he makes a solid case looking at obedience in relation to the common good of the Church. He keeps things direct and well ordered, although I think if he includes some perspective on the doctrine of subsidiarity it might make his argument even more compelling. I highly recommend his short, very readable, and very thorough book.

  12. matt from az says:

    @mike: Good one. I’m going to steal it if you don’t mind.

    @Dave P: I wish I’d only taken two lot crit courses. I majored in it. To double down on stupid, I double majored in Religious Studies where my two concentrations were liberation theology and feminist biblical criticism. I mean, when I tell people I am a trained Marxist, I’m not kidding.

    I thank for for saving me from it, although I always wonder why he’d make me suffer through it in the church thirty years later.

    @kurtmasur: Yes, Hussites. Thank you.

  13. WVC says:

    @TonyO – Naturally, Dr. Kwasniewski elaborates on this very point both more eloquently than I could and with substantial historical references.

    I think this is a “must read.”

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear WVC,

    Well said. I suppose Vatican II is the testing ground for Vatican I?

    Other than the fact that there is the GIRM, which everyone saying the NO is supposed to follow, what exactly is so unitive about the NO, with its multiplicated options? I think the more proper term Pope Francis was looking for is universal. He wants there to be one basic Mass celebrated by the Church. That is all well and good; Trent wanted as much.

    Where his logic eludes me is in claiming either that universalism wouldn’t be obtained if everyone said the TLM or that the NO is in anyway superior in the eyes of the Holy Spirit to the TLM, since it is not what the Council Fathers wanted.

    I suppose the more interesting question is not whether a Pope can suppress a long-standing traditional Mass, but whether he can disseminate one that is such a radical departure from it, in the first place. Was it actually within the charism of Pope Paul VI to promulgate the NO? If so, then I suppose it is within the charism of Pope Francis to suppress the TLM. In other words, how far may a Mass deviate from tradition until it loses it connection to it and ceases being representative of the Church’s liturgical life?

    The Chicken

  15. Lurker 59 says:

    I have to disagree with one of the premises of the article. “The Second Vatican Council is the guideline of every inspection, every provision, even harsh ones by the Pope.” This isn’t correct. Pope Francis’ “focal point” is the Spirit of the Council and when he talks about the Council he isn’t talking about the produced documents but rather the process/the people/the event. It is the same way the current Synod — it is not the document that he is referencing, or looking towards, but rather the animating spirit and the process. The produced document isn’t actually important (in fact it’s conclusions are a fait accompli — even if the actual physically produced document is something else the focus will always be on the preconceived idea — which is why the heterodox never reference the actual documents of VII, but rather the spirit, or the council, or the idea that the council failed to reach but one day will reach).

    This pontificate isn’t bipolar at all, and I would suggest, that such a view only serves to downplay the radicalness and engenders complacency in those that are rationally and, by grace, opposed to such hetrodoxy.

  16. Lurker 59 says:

    @Tony O “Once we refuse to submit to the pope on a matter of prudential judgment merely because he has made some really bad choices, how are we different from Protestants.”

    When it comes to the issue of “obedience”, a lot of consternation comes from 1.) laity reading materials that are meant for individuals of other states in life and vocations and then trying to directly apply those principles to their lives. 2.) the hierarchical nature of obedience / being overly concerned about “what if the pope tells me ….” instead of being concerned about the will of those who are directly their spiritual fathers. 3.) disassociation of obedience from the primacy of love.

    In terms of Protestants, as a former Protestant, the “Reformers” were a million times more strict on the issue of obedience than the Catholics — especially the Calvinists. You really were not allowed any room for differing thoughts and it is this that lead to the fracturing of Protestantism as people got kicked out / left to form their own communions. Catholicism is way more plastic and allows way more divergence in thought and practice — because everyone is in a state of becoming sanctified including the hierarchy so that in the minutia the line becomes increasingly fuzzy. (This is why it is hard to nail “the line” down precisely — Catholicism is a Faith based on adherence to the person of Christ NOT a set of axioms/presuppositions.)

    Canonizations – The problem with the modern form of canonizations is that they are canonizations absent the existence of any real cult of the proposed saint. The only way to deal with what is going on is for the laity to focus on developing the cult for particular individuals. Yes it is messy and errors happen but it is also contrary to the sensus fidelium to sit there and wait for the eccelsially approved list of people to pray to. It has always been the case that the “raising to the altars” is magisterium playing catchup to the cult and officially recognizing an already existing reality. It is not the otherway around. The canonization factory of the modern Church has caused such a loss of Catholic spirituality.


    The TLM cannot be squashed because it is an Apostolic Rite. It is more than 1600+ years old, it is just that its present form largely is from the tridentine reforms. Squashing TLM is to reject the Apostolicisity of the Church. What is the faith that comes to use from the Apostles? It is the Mass. Scripture in so far as it is canonical, that is said at Mass. Tradition, in so far as it is the doxology and praxis the enables, is contained in, and springs forth from the Mass. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Faith and it made manifest to us in our day through the Apostolic Liturgy- everything flows towards and from Christ and His liturgical action as priest and victim.

    The solution to determining “that which is reasonable from that which is unreasonable” is, I would say, by paying attention to the Holy Spirit (not the spirit of Vatican II^tm). The Holy Spirit can blow where He blows, but He is pretty straight forward when dealing with the the Church when taken as a whole. God wants us to trust Him and to have a child’s trust. The “reasonable” really is that which can be understood by simple fishermen. Thus, anything not straight forward is suspect. Faith seeks understanding not understanding Faith. (This is why I don’t buy most of the “Francis isn’t Pope” arguments — they are too esoteric and require too much specialized knowledge to even posit.)

    As an example: Saying, “The Faith of your fathers is no longer Catholic” should easily be seen to be unreasonable and that such people should be ignored (and prayed for).

  17. The Vicar says:

    Wondering if people understand the gravity and implications of what is being discussed.

  18. WVC says:

    @The Chicken – Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of Paul VI and the NO. Is it really just a new, separate rite? Can Pope’s create new rites out of whole cloth (presuming it does not try to replace an existing rite)? I haven’t the foggiest. I’m hoping future theologians figure that one out.

    @The Vicar – It’s possible we might even understand the gravity and implications better than those who are so nonchalantly trying to suppress the ancient liturgy of the Church and are trying to stampede people into schism.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear matt from az,

    Because if you don’t stop them in their tracks, they will kill you. […] [T]he fight for the soul of the Church must come to blows. There is no other way.

    There is the other way of letting oneself be killed, receive one’s burns in Purgatory for one’s debts of punishment of course, and then, if you pardon the flippancy, watch the show from a happy place. As for the survival of the Church on this side of the River Jordan, let God sort it out, she’s His and He promised.

  20. Not says:

    Thank you Masked Chicken,
    When in conversations with fellow Catholics about all the marinations coming out of Rome, I usually respond, And this has what to do with my eternal salvation?
    The TLM has been the Mass of the Church for centuries. Has the NO inspired conversions, filled the churches, filled the seminaries and religious orders?
    When a tree has a branch that is not producing, you cut it off.

  21. tradcath1953 says:

    That last line brings to mind the book Dictator Pope by Colonna. He mentions the fear of all those working for Francis the humble. He had even mentioned the phones were tapped. No wonder no one wants to speak up. I consider Francis like a grey squirrel. His antics are so amusing to watch until you discover all the damage he just did to your garden.

  22. Lurker 59 says:

    @The Masked Chicken

    ” In other words, how far may a Mass deviate from tradition until it loses it connection to it and ceases being representative of the Church’s liturgical life?”

    That is a great question. It also is a question that is quintessentially from a Western Catholic mind. The answer generally is as far as the words of consecration/epiclesis. I prefer the Eastern more messy but more wholistic approach of seeing the Liturgy as a totality with all of it necessary (not just the Mass with its constitutive parts but all of the Liturgical life of the Church) with the problem being our degree of conformity to the totality of it.

    It is sort of the difference between the mindset of “what little can I do to have this be a valid Mass?”, which results in the 5-8 minute just the brass-tacks Masses, and “how do I conform myself to the weight of this thing?” and just getting on with it.

    I have found it useful to broach the subject with “normie” Catholics by positing the question in terms of pop culture (or politics if I am feeling daring). How far can Disney Star Wars deviate from Lucas’ Star Wars before it isn’t Star Wars anymore? Is Kurtzman Trek still Star Trek? I am pleased that most people don’t need much prompting to see that Amazon Rings of Power isn’t Tolkien. These questions can provide us some analogous pointers to dealing with your question.

    Historically, we can also look at “How far can the Anglicans go?” and “How far can Luther go?” If we are daring, we can look to the Protestant liturgy wars and see how they answer that question for pointers. For example, is the liturgy to be comprised only of that which is expressly contained in the Bible, or is it to be comprised only of that which is not expressly rejected by the Bible?

    Your question is worth picking at. It seems to me that the answer is “all of it” which entails a rather lifelong conversion of the entire person to Christ as we struggle and suffer in a Church militant that does not yet fully express to the world the “all of it” of Christ’s liturgical action it is eschatological fullness and perfection.

    “Was it actually within the charism of Pope Paul VI to promulgate the NO? If so, then I suppose it is within the charism of Pope Francis to suppress the TLM.”

    1. Was it within the charism of Pope Leo III to add the filioque (so that both the text and meaning of the text now diverge from the Traditional text and meaning)? A yes here helps to deal with Pope Paul VI (conversely a no with PVI causes a problem for LIII).

    2. Not sure if we need to have what was done in either case be an aspect of the charism of the Papacy and not just part of the ordinary judicial authority of the magisterium.

    3. Why do you see that the ability to suppress necessarily follows from the ability to promulgate?

    4. Let’s look at this question another way. Does the Papacy have the power to suppress the Liturgy of St. Basil? Does the Papacy have the power to suppress the Liturgy of St. James?

    Let me answer analogously: The Papacy has the ability to promulgate and suppress the Grail Psalter. The Papacy must recognize the Psalms and may not suppress the Psalms. The NO may be promulgated and surpassed. TLM may not be suppressed.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear TonyO, and others,

    interesting discussion about obedience. I’m not going to repeat what has been said by e. g. WVC and Lurker 59 (interesting points – though I’d doubt the canonization practices for people other than former Popes can, even granting the unfriendliness of the expression, called a “canonization factory”; and even with Popes St. Pius X and St. John Paul II really did have cults before).

    I will say, being brief (for a change – even if a rather wordy sort of brief), this:

    TonyO, you asked: Once we refuse to submit to the pope on a matter of prudential judgment merely because he has made some really bad choices, how are we different from Protestants[?]

    What makes us different from Protestants is that we don’t subscribe to the Protestant heresy, and, hopefully, not any other heresy either. There, that’s it.

    Obedience is (generally) a virtue and an obligation. That is, it comes under the head of “given that we are Catholics, we see that we have to do some things, amongst which” etc. And as in all such things, the details are… well, the details. Conscience, hopefully informed reason, one’s Confessor, moral theologian authors… these are involved in settling the details. But the point is that the details are details.

    Obedience is not, however, what defines our being as Catholics. (Neither, after all, are other quite actual virtues like chastity or not-drinking-to-the-point-of-utter-drunkenness.)

    Obedience is something Catholics happen to cherish as a virtue, and generally a minor one at that (but certainly no vice or something that could be entirely disregarded). It is not what makes them Catholics.

  24. The Masked Chicken says:

    A few comments:

    Vicar wrote:

    “Wondering if people understand the gravity and implications of what is being discussed.”

    Well, Canon 211 states:

    “Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.”

    “§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.”

    “§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

    The laity can make their opinions known about liturgical matters as long as they do it with reverence and dignity. Compared to most sites, this seems to be a fairly dignified discussion, although, because of frustration, it can, occasionally, veer a little away from reverence (no matter how tempted one is to violence, Imrahil is correct about the virtue of long-suffering in correcting problems in the Church unless one has a specific prominence which allows them to act in a more direct fashion – the laity have never punched a pope, even if a bishop has punched a bishop).

    Lurker 59 wrote:

    “ 3. Why do you see that the ability to suppress necessarily follows from the ability to promulgate?”

    I answer:
    Binding and loosing go together.

    “ Let me answer analogously: The Papacy has the ability to promulgate and suppress the Grail Psalter. The Papacy must recognize the Psalms and may not suppress the Psalms. The NO may be promulgated and surpassed. TLM may not be suppressed.”

    I answer: The TLM is not analogous to the psalms, which are divinely inspired holy writ. The TLM has an aspect of tradition associated with it, true, but the TLM is not the proto-Mass in the same way that the Hebrew Psalms are the proto-psalms from which other settings are derived. The TLM is an excellent expression of the Mass, but it is not the Mass. The pope cannot suppress the Mass, since Jesus told us to celebrate it until He comes again – that is the proper analogy to the Psalms – but the particular expression of the Mass is not only found in the TLM, excellent as it is. The question is whether or not the NO deviates from the text in ways which, while being valid, allows for alternate misleading interpretations. In other words, are it’s many choices likely to confuse the faithful on doctrinal points, just like a substandard translation of the Psalms might?

    The Chicken

  25. The Masked Chicken says:

    It’s should be its. Autocorrect. Maybe, autocorrect is an analogy for the frustration that some people feel about the NO – you thought, at one time, that autocorrect was a good idea (and sometimes, it is), but it makes you nostalgic for old-fashion school marms and a little bit of holding the speller’s feet to the fire until they own the words.

    The Chicken

  26. WVC says:

    @The Chicken – I don’t feel like you beat the analogy to death yet, so I’ll add, “and then some folks begin to use autocorrect to push specific agendas, having it try to steer writers towards using more inclusive language, and then it begins to mark traditional spellings as mistakes and changing them, and, before you know it, folks can’t even remember a time when they/theirs wasn’t used to represent singular objects . . .”

    Did that do it? Is it dead now?

  27. TonyO says:

    Thank you, all above, for what I see as the most fruitful conversation on the topic of obedience in these trying times that I have yet come across. Especially MC’s last comment, that’s a treasure. All of you: be well, and do well, and keep thinking and re-considering and learning.

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