Christmas and Holiday 2023
Rounding the Next Turn

This Is the Last Time I Write About the Current State of the Catholic Church

Well, at least during this papacy. 

The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therefore seeing the matter is thus begun, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I fear that we be not the men that shall see the end of the misery.

Wherefore, seeing I am an old man and look not long to live, I mind not by the help of God to trouble my conscience in pleasing the king this way whatsoever become of me, but rather here to spend out the remnant of my old days in praying to God for him.

    --St. John Fisher's "reply to Bishops Stokesley, Gardiner and Tunstal, sent to the Tower by Thomas Cromwell to persuade Fisher to submit to the King" (full text at the link)

I do not of course identify myself with St. John Fisher's courage in the face of the immediate and fairly certain prospect of decapitation. I'm not in any personal danger from either secular or religious authorities. I'm not even in danger of financial or social penalties. I suppose I might experience either or both of those if I were in a situation where the opinion of progressives had that kind of power over me, but I'm not. Nor do I mean that the Catholic Church, in my country or universally, has been decisively conquered in the way that Fisher witnessed. 

What I identify with is Fisher's understanding that it was the authorities within the Church who had given it over to its enemies, his resignation in the face of the result, and his certainty that the trouble he sees will long outlast him. 

The turmoil in the Catholic Church, the conflict between the Faith more or less as it has been understood for 2000 years and doctrinal revisions intended to make it acceptable to that godless fool, "modern man," is a grave crisis which is not going to be resolved in my lifetime. The evangelization which Vatican II and other changes were meant to enable is now crippled by that internal conflict (among many other things). And this crisis has mainly been the work of church authorities.

I know I've said things like this before, but not, I think, with quite so much emphasis and finality. The occasion, as you might have guessed, is the issuing of the decree Fiducia supplicans. I don't think I need to say much about it. If you want to dig into what it actually says and what it actually means, there are plenty of opinions out there. (I think Larry Chapp has it right.)

My own view is simple: the decree is the answer to the question "How can we do this while denying that we are doing it?" I know the document is carefully constructed to be technically orthodox, and I recognize the good will of those who argue that it changes nothing. But I think they're mistaken. The homosexual rights activist Fr. James Martin, S.J., thinks so, too, quoted by Chapp: “Be wary of the ‘Nothing has changed’ response to today’s news. It’s a significant change.".

Fisher of course did not live to see the church which replaced his own be surrendered in a similar way, not to a king but to the diffused sovereignty of the spirit of the times, which I think is clearly the spirit of the Antichrist. Many of us who watched, helplessly, the internal apostasy of most of Anglicanism recognize Fiducia supplicans as a maneuver in the struggle which wrecked that communion. Whether that maneuver will be followed successfully by others I won't try to guess. I think the most likely long-term result is a gradual continuation of the hollowing-out process which leaves "official teaching" more or less intact but a dead letter. 

I don't care to speculate about the motives of the pope. I'll just go back to something I've said before, but with more emphasis: Pope Francis is a bad pope in the functional sense that he is bad at his job, like a builder whose buildings fall down. He has  exacerbated--deliberately, it appears--the divisions in the Church and insured that the crisis of which I spoke above will be prolonged for quite some time. It is entirely possible that it will become much, much worse, in part because of his approach to it.

There's something else on this subject that I may or may not have said here before, though I have certainly said it in other places. I'll repeat it as I leave the topic: I had never, as far as I recall, so much as heard the name of Cardinal Bergoglio before his election to the papacy, and therefore had no prejudice against him. But when he stepped out onto that balcony to greet the crowds after his election, I immediately had what I can only describe crudely as a bad feeling. It had no particular content and I wouldn't call it a premonition, just...a bad feeling. I've thought about it often since then, and have spoken to others who had the same experience. It's a small thing which may be significant. Or not.


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This is the best thing I've seen on this. From Archbishop Emeritus Chaput.

Everyone in this world and the next, pray for us.

I TOLD YOU SO! isn’t very satisfying.

Not at all.

Chaput's commentary is brilliant. He's exactly right.

And I have to say, this kind of stuff from the pope: "Fearfully sticking to rules ...rigid ideological positions..." is a petty and obnoxious straw man, unworthy of the office.

Alas, I keep thinking of a sad song which somewhere includes the line "the blessing of irregular unions" and begins "The legend lives on from the Vatican on down..."

Ugh. Now I'm tempted to do a full parody, based on the Barque of Peter metaphor. :-)

(If anyone didn't catch it, Rob is taking a line from "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.")

One of the amusing ironies of Francis's papacy is the way he's given new life to the term "jesuitical" as an insult. "It's not the unions being blessed, it's the individuals!"

" the big churches go she was bigger than most...." ;-)

Mind you, as an Orthodox I take no pleasure in this mess. I'm with Dreher -- the West needs a strong RC Church in order to survive.

:-) Maybe it's you who should do the parody.

I'm with Dreher on that, too, of course.

I'm thinking of re-reading Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World. I keep remembering his picture of a very very very tiny remnant of the Church at the last day.

I didn't have a bad feeling that day, although I had a friend who, on Day 1, was already wary. Perhaps the positive response from the world media -- such a sharp contrast to the "Panzercardinal" garbage that was rolled out on Benedict's election -- should have tipped me off. It never occurred to me we might be in a situation like this.

My hope at this point is that all the turmoil and confusion will disturb the cardinals enough that we don't get Part II. Not that it would solve the problems, but maybe stop creating them.

I am not at all looking forward to the next papal election. Yeah, "stop creating them" would be a big improvement. And the enthusiasm of the media certainly didn't help to allay my uneasiness about Francis.

Can I vote in the next conclave, or at least accompany the conclave? Pretty please?

I think the Swiss Guards would accompany you to the exit.

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