A few weeks ago, any number of Catholic commentators wildly applauded Pope Francis’ letter to Archbishop Marchetto, trumpeting it as proof positive that the current pontificate is committed to Pope Benedict’s approach to Vatican II, some even going so far as to proclaim that Francis clearly shares his predecessor’s vision for the Church. I disagreed.
More recently, even some tradition-minded Catholics are making similar hay over a letter Pope Francis sent to Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, in which he once again affirmed Benedict’s so-called “hermeneutic of continuity” while also offering praise for the Council of Trent. (Translated text available at Rorate Caeli.)
Of the Tridentine council, Pope Francis said in part:
No doubt, with the Holy Ghost inspiring and suggesting, it especially concerned the Fathers [of Trent] not only to guard the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine, but also to more clearly enlighten mankind, so that the saving work of the Lord may be poured out onto the whole world and the Gospel be spread through the entire world.
Graciously hearing the very same Holy Ghost, the Holy Church of our age, even now, continues to restore and meditate upon the most abundant doctrine of Trent. As a matter of fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” (interpretatio renovationis) which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers not only to the Tridentine Council but also to the Vatican Council. The mode of interpretation, certainly, places one honourable characteristic of the Church in a brighter light that is given by the Same Lord (Benedict XVI): “She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Christmas Address to the Roman Curia).
Once again, I feel compelled to caution that this may not be the wonderful news it’s being made out to be.
Before I get to the letter itself, let me first say that there’s a disturbing trend developing among some Catholics “on the right” of late, wherein the pontificate of Pope Benedict is being looked upon in hindsight as though it represents “glory days” for the Church. While we certainly have things to recall fondly (very fondly in the case of Summorum Pontificum), how soon we forget Assisi III!
Sure, I get it, relative to the madness of the last eight months, Benedict can begin to resemble Pius X in the nostalgic mind’s eye, but that’s not reality.
Even after seven years at the helm, Benedict’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” failed to provide clarity relative to Vatican II, and it did so for the simple reason that the entire program is constructed upon the false premise that everything the Council proposed dovetails nicely with the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles if only it be read a certain way.
For a dose of reality, one might do well to revisit one of the Holy Father’s most detailed reflections on the Council, published on Oct. 11, 2012 in L’Osservatore Romano. (A remarkable text that I commented upon here.)
Undeterred, some will continue grasping for traditional straws saying, But Francis lauded Trent! Surely that’s terrific news!
Really? Is that how far we’ve fallen? Only in severely unhealthy times can it be major news when the Roman Pontiff offers praise for the greatest ecumenical council in the last five hundred years.
Beyond this, every commentator that I have read thus far seems to be missing the most salient point of all relative to the pope’s letter to Cardinal Brandmuller:
Not only does Pope Francis laud the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council, he intimates that he considers Vatican Council II to be on par with them!
He is, after all, only being consistent. One may recall that the first time Pope Francis publicly commented upon Vatican II, he did so saying:
The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit. But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No. We celebrate this anniversary, we make a monument, but do not bother. We do not want to change. And there is more: there are calls [voci, also ‘voices’] wanting to move back.
In other words, for Pope Francis, the content of Vatican II, just like the content of Trent and Vatican I, is the voice “of the very same Holy Ghost.”
This, my friends, is perhaps the most unrealistic, and flat out dangerous, approach to the Council that the pope could possibly take.
If I may offer two (of many similar) quotations:
“The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. …” Pope Paul VI, Oct. 13, 1977 as quoted in Corriere della Sera, Page 7 of its issue dated October 14, 1977)
Cardinal Ciappi who read the Third Secret of Fatima, was a distinguished theologian from the pontifical household from 1955 to 1989. The Cardinal wrote a letter to a certain academic in which he confided: “In the Third Secret (of Fatima) it is predicted, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.”
Pray the Rosary daily. Undertake the 5 First Saturday devotion of reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray for the gift of discernment.
Sound counsel and I will follow it and I thank you for it.
Thank you ,Mr.V., for loving us enough and trusting our maturity in the Faith enough to know that we are beyond childhood , can handle things as they are currently in our unhealthy Church and will abide with her through the only true way, via Tradition.
Your analysis of Benedict on Dignitatis Humanae is very insightful.
I cannot help but perceive, and lament, that even for many well-meaning Catholics the red line for “papal activism” (cf. judicial activism) is abortion and/or the liturgy and not, more fundamentally, the Catholic religion itself.
Each of us ought to remember that it is only because we have previously accepted the certainty of God’s existence and the historical fact of Our Lord’s Resurrection that we go on to accept the papal primacy. There is thus no room for papal activism in matters of divine truth and faith.
Look, if you are expecting Bergoglio to mean what he says or speak the truth, you need to go back and read what he wrote and said in the last 9 months. The man is nothing less than a formal, public, and manifest heretic, willing to pose as a catholic to keep his position, but that is all….
May God who can do all things, either convert him to the Cathoic Faith, or deliver us from him!
Yes, I was surprised to listen to MIchael Voris on the Vortex point to these quotes from the Pope as proof he is no Modernist and may even be seen wearing the Red Shoes soon! I love Michael Voris but after watching that Vortex I thought he’s clearly not seeing clearly when it comes to the Bishop of Rome.
Pope Francis – “In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him,” ‘pretends’ is an accurate translation. This Pope is a pretender. We need not take heed.
It is only natural to grasp at straws. No one wants the Pope to actually be a modernist. You would think they would know that Modernists say ‘orthodox’ stuff in order to cloak and distract from the heretical stuff they say. Still, we have to face facts about the last Popes we have had and the one we have now. It is painful…they don’t want to accept that cross, at least not yet.
If Francis uses ghostwriters at times to make himself seem less radical-liberal, who would the likely candidates be? Did he also do the same thing back in Argentina?
I think some good catholics just cannot admit that this Pope is a great danger to the Catholic faith. Like us all they have been taught to respect and love the papal office and so therefore find it difficult to admit the truth about Bergoglio. It is really sad that faithful catholics have been led into this confusion and feel that they are being disloyal to the church if they speak against him.
However , the fight is now on for our very soul s, and Bergoglio’s ways are not the ways of Christ
Catholicism is not just a religion: it is a country of the heart and of the mind. No matter how resolutely they turn their backs on it, people born within it never quite shed their accents. And there are a great many who cannot emigrate, no matter how uninviting living conditions become. We may freeze within it; we would die outside it.
‘I belong to the race of people,’ wrote the great Catholic novelist Francois Mauriac, ‘who, born in Catholicism, realize in earliest manhood that they will never escape from it, never leave it. They were within it, they are within it, and they will be within it for ever and ever.”
To this race I also belong . ………..Catholicism is dying. If the Church of Christ is to survive as a visible light to the world, there must be, there will be, a Catholic counter-revolution. In God’s good time. May it be soon.
O, Holy Wisdom……..We pray for perseverance!
Jesus, Mary….we love You, save souls!
@ Catholic at Rome
Agree with you 100%.
From reading these posts, I’m most certainly relieved that there still appear to be a good number of Catholics who retain their sensus catolicus and who do not appear to be tricked by the wicked deceitfulness of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Mr V. thank you and God Bless for speaking out for the Truth with such clarity and cogency.