A Tomb Does Not A Summer Make
And so it came to pass that Fox News informed us we might be “appeased” because Pope Francis visited the tomb of St. Pius X. Let me spend two words about it.
1. Traditionalist Catholics do not want to be “appeased”. They do not care for token gestures, at least the smart ones among them. What they want is that Tradition be upheld. I am afraid simply visiting a tomb is not going to wash.
2. Pope Francis did not explicitly, or so to say exclusively, visited St. Pius X's tomb. In fact, he visited three tombs, the other two being those of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. Neither, I am afraid, with the best credentials in the matter of fight against Modernism, and I am putting it mildly.
3. Pope Francis' visit of the tomb of St. Pius X poses, in fact, very interesting questions. Being in Paradise, that wonderful Pope can obviously not roll in his grave, but I am personally in no doubt he would if he could. Journalists writing of Traditionalists being “appeased” should rather wonder what Pope St. Pius X would have thought of a Pope celebrating Pinocchio Masses when he was Cardinal, washing the feet of women and Muslims at Maundy Thursday Mass, disregarding the Missal with the same levity with which he disregards the script of his homilies, doing all he can to undermine Papal authority, and in general being too humble by half. Methinks, if informed of the existence of such priests that saintly Pope would have had very interesting words, and would have written an encyclical letter called Pascendi Dominici gregis.
4. Besides all that, I can't avoid noticing the token gesture isn't even a token gesture. The simultaneous visit of the tomb of two Vatican II Popes sends, in fact, exactly the opposite signal. Look – the bishop of Rome seems to say – I am paying some sort of tribute to the pre-V II Church; but make no mistake, I am V II through and through. Nor can the objection be raised that we are reading too much into the Papal – or should I say, to please Francis, episcopal – tomb visits, because when the Vatican issues a press statement about it, it is obvious none of the tombs was visited by chance.
5. The “profound spiritual continuity” (Fr Lombardi) with past Popes would in my eyes have been stressed far more forcefully by dressing, celebrating Mass, and in general behaving like them. One can't be new and old at the same time, disregard what they did but stress how right they were, pay homage to an anti-Modernist Pope and lavish praises on Modernist theologians (de Lubac and Meisner only in the last weeks; I do not doubt Teilhard de Chardin and Rahner can't be far away); it's all so Vatican II…
6. Dulcis in fundo, let us talk about poverty, which the Vatican Press Office stresses as a main trait of St. Pius X's Papacy (basically ignoring all this Papacy was about). Yes, Pope Pius X was known for the extreme frugality of his life before and after becoming Pope; but he never made a show of it, and never tried to undermine the majesty of his role as Pontiff's in order to show how humble he was; and he did so, because he was humble of that humbleness that does not need to be put on show. Besides, it is very fair to say the saintly man would have been terrified at the amount of statism going on today, and would have called compulsory wealth redistribution socialism and an open attack to Christian charity. This, the Vatican press office conveniently ignored.
And so it came to pass that the half token tribute to a wonderful Pope of the past did not fool anyone of the intended addressees, and the Vatican press office will have to come out with some smarter ideas.