Daily Archives: April 18, 2012
I have often noticed how a certain kind of Catholic tends to think we have two Popes. They do not do it only with the present one, but with every one. Certainly, though, this is particularly evident with the current Pontiff.
The first Pope they have is a smart, cunning man. His intellect vastly surpasses the one of the common mortals. If he isn’t an outright genius, he very much resembles one. Whatever he does, must be the expression of this uber-fine intellect. Even when it seems he has made a mistake – say, Assisi gathering; or caving in to the “trendies” in the Wagner affair; or not acting for months in the Austrian matter – they will assure you it might seem something went wrong, but in reality some extremely far-looking plan, whose long-term wisdom we cannot even fathom, is being actuated. You have no idea, they will tell you. He is sooo smart.
More often than not, the very same people think they have a second Pope. This one is the complete opposite of the first. He is frail, and rather naive. Wolves circle around him without pause like he lives in a Jack London’s novel; the reasons for this no one cares to explain, considering not one of the supposed wolves is there by coincidence, but all of them are there because they are wanted just where they are, by the very Pope. This second Pope doesn’t seem very smart. He doesn’t know what happens in the world outside, and only relies on the wolves to tell him what’s up. He seems to not even have an internet connection. He speaks several languages, but newspapers don’t make it into his office. He is lied to, manipulated, made a puppet of.
I’ll tell you what I think. I think this Pope is smart, and knows what he’s doing. He has around him the people he wants to have around him. If his aides are the right ones, than the merit is his, because he is the one who chose them; if they are the wrong ones, then he is responsible for this, for the very same reason.
I think this Pope is nobody’s fool, and a vast improvement on his predecessor; but I’ll tell you very frankly he is no hero of mine. I think the weak choices he makes are, all of them, conscious choices, made in the full knowledge of their consequences. I think so, because I think he’s smart, and I think I only have one Pope.
I think this Pope has decided from the start his pontificate would have one foot on the gas, and another on the brakes. When he decided to issue Summorum Pontificum, he knew his bishops would have boycotted it, and he knew he would have allowed them to get away with it. He wanted to do the right things, but without much energy, lest it causes too many problems. So he did a lot of things right, and to balance that he did a lot of things wrong. Bishop Bonny, about whom I have written yesterday, is one of his (many) wrong, or catastrophic, appointments or promotions. The number of heretical or extremely questionable bishops appointed, or promoted, by him is vast (scour the bowels of this blog, and you’ll see what I mean). He is the man who installed Nichols in Westminster. Schoenborn is a protege’ of his. His German bishops go around frolicking untouched. I won’t insult his – and your – intelligence by telling you he didn’t know his trendy bishops and cardinals would behave that way. Of course he knew. He knew, because he isn’t stupid. And he knew, because he does not remove them.
Now we are at the two Popes again. The smart, forward-looking Pope who decides to seal the reconciliation with the SSPX is (again) at the same time an old, frail man who in the next weeks will be surrounded by wolves (chosen by him; all of them, bar none) trying to let him do… what exactly? Say it was all a misunderstanding?
Please, let us abandon the legend of the wolves. The man knows what he does, and knows what the consequences of his actions are. He has clearly made his decision, and we must trust him he will follow through with it, in his own time. He will be the one who delights us if things go as they should, and who disappoints us if they don’t (improbable, anyway).
He is responsible, because he is in charge; and he knows that.
Now several hours after the first breaking of The News, it is still a savage waiting and repeating of what we already know.
The German site of the SSPX this morning reported (in German, of course) the press was anticipating the agreement. They reported the news without commentary. From that moment, I had no doubts, and if I am proved wrong, blame my innocence and the SSPX naivete’. Mind, though, I can certainly be naive, but the men at the German SSPX are not.
A bit later the news from another SSPX site came, the reality is “different” from the news reporting an agreement is achieved. Well of course the agreement hasn’t been achieved. The Pope must say “yes”, and without his consent this reconciliation will not take place. It’s like a marriage: rejoice as much as you want, but the words will have to be spoken.
Then the Vatican chimed in, and basically said in so many words (from the mouth of one Federico Lombardi, who with a SSPX Pope wouldn’t survive more than fifteen minutes at his place; twenty, tops) that the Vatican will now examine everything oh so very carefully; and it might take oh such a long time; and the signed preambolo is not quite what one would expect; but it is still encouraging, and the reckless children have improved their behaviour; so that, you see, the Pope might, just might, in the end allow them to be reconciled.
In saying so, Lombardi tries to tell us – obviously, in so many words – we are all idiots; the terms of the signed preambolo has not been examined and agreed verbatim before it was delivered; and we could actually not expect any kind of agreement, unless it was for the benevolence of the Vatican.
Lombardi reminds me of those people who, days before the marriage, still tell everyone the betrothed are not actually married, and the bride (or the bridegroom, if you prefer) could still decide he-stroke-she wants to cancel everything. Yes, we know it. But we know the two want to marry, and are in agreement on this.
We can, now, speculate as to why the Vatican speaks of weeks rather than of, as it would be more natural and more sensible, days.
I will launch here, as it is a beautiful day, my wildest speculations:
1) They want to show to the SSPX he who loves, waits. A squabble of 24 years is coming to an end, and if the bride wants to make herself scarce for some other weeks, fine. In the end, it appears the greatest concessions by far, and I mean by far, are coming from there.
2) Some people at the CDF/Ecclesia Dei are a bit grated the SSPX (in my yes, on purpose) waited for the expiry of the “ultimatum which wasn’t really such” to deliver their answer. If you ask me, the SSPX wanted to give a signal they not are going to be bullied into any kind of undue subservience before, during or after the reconciliation; nor have they liked the undertone of “agree with us, or else…” which have been circulated. Kudos to them, say I. Still, as it is often the case in this kind of semi-diplomatic matters, now the ball is in the Vatican side they return the nicety: I waited for you, now you wait for me.
3) The weeks (if such they will be) of waiting will give both sides (particularly the SSPX) the time to organise themselves internally. They’ll find the way of having the preambolo circulated, explained, and approved. They’ll avoid Fellay exposing himself to the accusation of having put the SSPX in front of a fait accompli in front of the troops, in the face of which only approval or a frightful row with the Vatican are possible. They’ll discuss and agree with Williamson the way he himself will explain to his own aficionados why he can live with the agreement if he can, or to agree ways in which he can express an acceptable dissent if he cannot.They will, in short, prepare the ground for what, for an organisation now accustomed to live in open conflict with the Vatican for almost 25 years, must be an earthquake.
I might be wrong. I am, in fact, more often than I care to admit. But I refuse to be either worried or in any way “concerned” at the news of today.
In the end, the Pope is not a capricious, doting old man, but a smart guy who knows what he wants. If he were to back pedal now, he would stand there as the most cruel of men, and to be easy to manipulate. I don’t think he is either in the least. Besides, he knows the SSPX too well to think he could play games with them, even if he wanted.
It is as clear as the sun the Pontiff has already made his decision, as otherwise the SSPX would never have announced they have submitted a text they knew might be publicly refused.
If you ask me, the rest is entertainment.