The Soundness Of The Catholic Heartland
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.