Evangelii Gaudium: “A distinct kind of document”

On the heels of yesterday’s post and the always lively commentary that it generated…

Cardinal Burke’s comments are highly significant, not because one has any reasonable hope that he’s going to rescue the Church from the present crisis, nor because he is an unassailable proponent of every traditional cause, but because we haven’t seen anything like this, to my knowledge, in the past four decades.

In spite of whatever conciliar novelties Cardinal Burke may or may not have embraced, when a Cardinal Prefect of the Roman Curia publicly challenges the pope out of concern for tradition, albeit in a nuanced way, it’s noteworthy.

To my mind, we are witnessing a foreshadowing of what could very well become a public rift between the present pontificate and those presumably very few prelates who share Cardinal Burke’s concerns, but to date have chosen not to speak of them publicly.

Who are they? Who knows, but I am reminded of something Bishop Fellay has said on any number of occasions; namely, that the SSPX has “friends” among certain prelates in Rome who dare not reveal their sympathies for fear of retaliation.

Getting back to the interview, here’s another exchange that stood out to me:

Arroyo asked, “In the total, do you agree that that document [Evangelii Gaudium] is a part of the continuum of the teaching we saw with Pope John II, Pope Benedict and now Francis, and that it’s only the expression and the tone that has shifted?”

In his response, Cardinal Burke very rightly zeroed in on the word “teaching;” i.e., he understands that he is being asked if one is safe in assuming that the entirety of EG is reconcilable with the papal magisterium that predates it, namely, that of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (never mind tradition as a whole).

“I don’t know,“ Cardinal Burke replied.

This “I don’t know” strikes me as nothing less than an emphatic “NO!”

His Eminence went on to make essentially the same observation that I made shortly after reading the document; namely, that the Exhortation reads far more like a personal diary than an official papal instrument.

“To me, it’s a distinct kind of document, and I haven’t quite figured out in my mind exactly how to describe it. But I would not think that it was intended to be part of papal magisterium. At least that’s my impression of it.”

Yes, Eminence, and doesn’t it just make sense that Evangelii Gaudium, like pretty much everything else associated with this pontificate from moment one, is quite distinct from the papal tradition that preceded it?

As for how to describe the document, I think a “new genre of papal speech that isn’t particularly concerned with precision” pretty much sums it up.

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