The Soundness Of The Catholic Heartland

The humble abode of Vannozza Cattanei, the long-term mistress of Alexander VI.

With great pleasure I have read a great blog post on Rorate concerning the different ways Catholics in the traditional Catholic heartland see a couple of things. I feel, at times, rather isolated explaining this to an English-reading audience, so when help comes it is certainly welcome.

I will add only some impressions of mine, which I think might be of profit.

Firstly, in Italy no one would ever consider it offensive to call a Pope by his family name. Papa Sarto, Papa Pacelli, Papa Ratti were common expression before V II, and said with all the due respect. But you see: it was the respect due to a man. A man called to the highest office, and still with nothing supernatural in him.

Similarly, the expectation that the Popes be saintly men is rather naive in a country whose history is very intimately connected with, often, very secular Popes, and in which it is impossible to visit any of the big, and many of the less big, cities without finding infinite examples of the not-so-saintly characters of many Popes, or future Popes.

An Italian Catholic hopes and prays that the Pope is a saintly man. But he would never link his faith in the Church to the Pope being saintly. If he did, he would be asked on which planet – or rather, in which Country – he has lived up to now.

A blogger priest some time ago wrote a comment on his own blog, on the lines of “if the Pope were to teach error, then the faith would crumble”. I found the comment, and the thinking, astonishing, and probably written in a moment of unguarded despondency. Still, his reaction would not have been understood in Italy, where people would simply say that if the Pope teaches error this Pope is an extremely bad Pope; but again, as the Truth is not attached to any Pope, he could not destroy it more than he could destroy the Milky Way.

Then there is a lighter detail: Popes are, in Italy, considered the epitome of luxury and comfort. “Sto come un Papa”, “ho dormito come un Papa”, “son trattato come un Papa”, and the like all convey this image of extreme comfort and luxury. They know the Pope lives like a Pope, sleeps like a Pope, and is treated like a Pope.

If the Great Mess were to happen, you would see the faithful of Southern Europe drily recognising what a disgrace the Pope is; whilst many in Anglo-Saxon Country would have to invent the most outlandish fantasies – say: Francis was never elected Pope, Burke was; but then he was told they would torture Benedict with a feather, and deprive him of his books, unless Burke accepts Bergoglio; and he had to do it, to save the old man, of course… you have all heard such stories… – in order to stay Catholic…


The soundness of the Catholic heartland, unsullied by all the errors caused either by Ptotestantism or by a wrong reaction to it, will be of great help if the time comes to look at a truly horrible reality in the face. A reality from which, as every sound Catholic will know on reflection, God never promised he would protect us.

Particularly when we have done nothing to deserve such protection, and everything to deserve the punishment.



Posted on November 13, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed this very much. As always, it was enlightening and entertaining. We are absolutely blessed to have you and your “little effort”. Thanks so much Mundabor.

    • Thank you, Sir.
      My little effort is not so little anymore compared to how little it used to be, but it is still microscopical in the great scheme of things; particularly thinking of the scale of the attack currently underway…


  2. I hope you write more on this issue of the italian mindset versus the anglo-saxon/irish one. Can you explain why so many cardinals and popes of that time had mistresses and children out of wedlock? How did they live with themselves? Did they not view these things as mortal sins that would send them to Hell?

    • Don’t worry.
      “Homeless” or “dispossessed” is, I suspect, very often code for “desperate, available homo”.
      They’ll be very recogniseable after the shower, too.

  3. Very interesting to hear your perspective, M. Makes perfect sense; I realize you now live in England, but imagine you must have your finger on the pulse of Italy. Is the Papolatry here in America also now in Italy? What about England?

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that people here seem to want to chalk every notorious Pope up to a smear campaign (Oh, history tainted that poor man), as though the very foundation of Catholicism rested upon clearing the good name of every single Pope that held the keys.

    • Papolatry in Italy is a sport exclusively practiced by the uneducated, lower working class. I was shocked at noticing how diffused it is here among fairly educated people.

      In Italy, every halfway educated Catholic would be incensed at being accused of that which so many Catholics up here take for granted.


  4. Thanks for the perspective. Francis will hold the office, perhaps for a damagingly long time like the tormented Paul VI, or for a short time, or might abdicate (I hope that’s won’t become an institution, as it seems to diminish the office somehow), but there will be successors who try harder to be a good shepherd to the flock. Each one of us should keep trying to do our best as Catholics regardless.

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