It is Sunday morning and as far as I know Francis is still alive and kicking. Every man of faith knows the Holy Ghost can take him down in an instant.
The Church has traditionally thought canonisations are infallible, and I remain – until a valid argument to the contrary – of the opinion that where 2000 years of Christian convictions lead, Mundabor should bloody well follow. I have still not found any argument explaining to me why God would have allowed the formation of such a strong and diffused belief concerning things that cannot be verified, unless it be to teach us to trust God’s work in those things that cannot be verified.
This does not mean that these canonisations are not a disgrace. Of course they are.A canonisation often has a political element in it. It was always so. Kings were made saints, and founders of religious orders. The economic and political implications were immense. But we have never thought, because of that, that King Louis IX (canonised very meager 27 years after his death) or St Francis (less than two years) were not in heaven.
Look at it this way: St Dismas and countless other sinners managed to get to paradise not because of, but notwithstanding their shortcomings. We are not required to believe in heroic virtue as infallible corollary of canonisations, though it is very obvious the faithful should have the right to expect that heroic virtue be considered a requirement so that devotion to the saint be made more natural, and the canonisation better understood. In both today’s cases, it is very difficult to say that this was the case if we consider the public work of both Popes. I agree with that. But you see, pontificates are not canonised. People are.
At the end of all discussions, Francis is still breathing as I write this. I am absolutely sure the Holy Ghost is never late. Therefore, if he wants to have Francis taken out of circulation I am sure he will not, so to speak, arrive to the station when the train has already left.
No. The Holy Ghost is in control. If he allows Francis to say to the planet what the Christian has generally believed infallible these two thousand years, then in my humble mind it means he has not waited until 2014 in order to suddenly teach us to properly understand infallibility; on the contrary, he is asking us to continue to believe what has been generally believed in these two thousand years. Oh what a man of little faith, the one who doubts what the Church has encouraged the faithful to believe, has implicitly given for granted for these 2000 years, merely because the seal of formal infallibility has not been given. What sixty of generations of Christians have believed is good enough for me. I trust God would not allow a mistake of such magnitude.
Still, this is a day of infamy, in which not only V II is factually extolled as the way to go, but Francis himself is actively pushing toward his own beatification, because it is clear by now no V II pope should be considered below at least that.
Of course, these canonisations will be used to push all kind of nonsense. Of course, none of the nonsense will make sense, after the canonisations as well as before. Yes, there can be no doubt a tambourine offensive is upon us, and it will be fueled – among many other things – by these canonisations. But in my eyes the most important thing now is that we do not lose faith in the minimum meaning of canonisation, and my greatest fear is not that thinking people may be swayed toward acceptance of V II because of the canonisations (thinking and properly instructed people would find the thought hilarious), but that they may be tempted by Sedevacantism.
As to the attempt to “canonise V II”, I will fight this battle with relish, and I am sure you will do the same. The battle would be upon us anyway, seeing the kind of man we have as Pope.
The day of infamy has come. The Church still stands. The Holy Ghost sees everything.
The right way to react to this is to intensify criticism of V II. And of the two new Saints. because it’s not that saints are ipso facto infallible, and if you make someone who has made huge mistakes a saint you will have to be reminded of the mistakes every time you mention he is a canonised Saint.
A lot of people go to paradise. Only very few are canonised. There was no need to add these two disastrous pontiffs to the list.
The recent utterances of Francis The Destroyer are, if you ask me, potentially far more dangerous than the translation blunder about the “ascetic” priests. And this time, it cannot be a problem of translation.
There is in Francis’ observation an insisted reference to a “new time”, the “time of mercy”. The man truly thinks that times go on in blocks. We had the time of, say, justice, where the church cared about the rules. Now we are in the time of mercy; a time which will obviously require new rules and a new attitude, otherwise it would not make any sense to say that we are in a “new time” anyway.
This is first class, quality-certified, prize-winning New Age bollocks. And it profoundly undermines and seeks to destroy – like all talk of “new times” – Christianity.
If we live in new times of mercy, we must deduct that we are stuck with the Jesus of the old times. If we live in a new time, there’s no way of saying what should be preserved – and what, necessarily, discarded – of the rules given to us in, and for, the “old times”.
I have never seen anyone talking of “new times” without linking to it the aspiration to, or the demand of, profound changes. It is not clear to me why Francis, of all people, should not entertain such ideas.
And this is exactly what he is doing. As more and more Catholics understand this Pope is genuinely subversive, he must gradually explain to them why this is so. Enter the “new time”, conveniently used every time the doctrine flies out of the window. And notice that he tries to hide behind his finger and say that the “new age” actually started with JP II; an alleged fact the planet never noticed, and of which it must now be informed by Francis.
Now don’t get me wrong: it is always easy to pick one word here and one phrase there of some past Pope and say “look, he said it already!” Protestants do it all the time with the Bible! But as always, you must understand what the agenda behind the words is, and there can be no doubt Francis’ agenda is to pump V II with “mercy” steroids like it’s a Russian athlete in the Eighties, until Justice is all but invisible, and Goodness made a mockery of.
I can hear the Pollyannas already, getting all excited about the “new papacy” for the “new times”.
At “Patheos” they will be screaming like little girlies.
I might be wrong, but I think this “mercy” thing – including hostage-taking of soon-to-be-canonised JP II – will be used to justify an awful lot of heresies in the years to come.
The “new time” is coming. Fasten your seat belts, and pray the Lords he gives us back the old times soon.
Difficult times are in store for Catholics. Besides the already questionable canonisation of JP II, the even more questionable “miracle” attributed to Paul VI, and still called “miracle”, opens even more disquieting questions about what is happening with the canonisations, and how a Catholic is to react to such news.
To me, the question is very simple: either canonisations are infallible, or they aren't.
It is my understanding that canonisations are infallible. That is, that God will not allow canonisations of people who are not in Paradise. If you read attentively the relevant entry in the Catholic encyclopedia, you will see that this opinion is so dominant as to allow us to consider it what the Church has generally believed: not because it is a self-evident truth, but because it appears a rather logical consequence of the cult of the Saints, and it is not given to see – to me at least – how the first can be crushed without very gravely damaging the second. I do not need to tell you that with a decree of canonisation the Pope orders (not allows) to believe that such and such is in heaven.
This is, mind, not dependent on the actual ways or procedures which led to the proclamation of someone as a saint. The highly structured process we know today – and which remained structurally unchanged until JPII raped it with the abolition of the advocatus diaboli – was not followed until many centuries after the first martyrs; and whilst we know in the earlier times martyrs had a kind of monopoly on the canonisations, I can't imagine we can get certainty of rigorous procedures for several centuries of Church history. Again, the Catholic encyclopedia has interesting words about the confessors and the gradual evolution of the process.
What shall we do, then: divide the saints into those with the “quality seal” of a rigorous procedure, and the others? Does everything come down to picking a “safe bet?” Is a martyr a “safer bet” than a confessor? As far as I know, many are the Saints who were acclaimed such by the Christians in Rome. Were they all martyrs? Are we so sure? And what about those believed saints in force of strong conviction of the Catholic world?
Does not the entire concept of the culto dei Santi repose on the concept of infallibility? Who of you, on buying a book about the Saints, questions the legitimacy of some of them? “Hhhmmmm… Saint such and such. Canonised in 931. A period of great Church corruption. Hhhmmm… No, I don't really trust this one”.
I am at a loss to understand how it can work this way. If the Church tells me that Saint Quisque is in Heaven, and She orders me to believe it, either she says it infallibly or the statement makes no sense, because there is no way to verify the entrance of the saint in Heaven with the measure of Church doctrine. When Francis tells me this or that rubbish about, say, the Blessed Virgin, I can check whether it is conform to tradition or not. When he tells me that Paul VI is in heaven, I must believe that God does not allow him to cheat me on that.
And in fact, it seems to me that to be a “doubter” implies the belief in a rather timid God, who would allow a Pope to cheat us in such a way that we cannot see that he is cheating, whilst allowing him to order us that we believe him without proof, and merely on faith.
Or you can say it in this way: no one can, without committing a mortal sin, allow himself an authoritative statement that, say, Paul VI is not in heaven. If, therefore, we cannot demonstrate that he is not, we must believe that God did not deceive us when He allowed the Church to believe for 2,000 years that a Pope can tell us that someone is.
I have more confidence in God's work than to doubt a canonisation, unsavoury or seemingly absurd as it may seem. I think that God stays behind the deal He has given us, and will crush Francis like a mosquito, or otherwise impede the canonisations, if JP II and John XXIII are not in heaven on the day appointed. This is what our forefathers have always believed, and this is what I will continue to believe, in the confidence that what was held sacred by all generations before me applies to this wretched generation, too.
“Ah, but this time is different!”, some will say.
Look: a lot of times were “different” already. Nihil sub sole novi. We have gone, in the history of the Church, through astonishingly corrupt times, and with Popes to match; but still, our forefathers trusted God not to allow a Pope to cheat them in such matters; not ever, irrespective of the deficiencies of the Pope, the canonisation process, or the mistakes made in life by the canonised person. Nor do we divide the Popes in Popes of First, Second and Third Class concerning canonisations.
Will I, then, erect myself as judge of another's acceptance in Heaven, when God does not give me a way to make a judgment, nay, he explicitly forbids me to make it? Will I die with such a sin of presumption on my conscience when I know, absolutely know, that this is just the thing concerning which it is part of the Divine Plan that I should not be allowed to judge for myself?
How can I know what tests Paul VI had to pass? How do I know with what virulence he was attacked? How do I know he did not get a valid plenary indulgence, dying – after all his mistakes – perfectly contrite for them, absolved of everything, and with nothing more to pay? How can I know that, if he did go to purgatory, he is still there?
“But Mundabor! He had no heroic virtue! He was an appeaser to his last breath!” It might well be so; it was very probably so; but whilst heroic virtue is a frequent appearance by canonised saints, it is not a requirement. The canonisation decree does not require you to believe in one's heroic virtue, merely that he is in heaven.
I am, as you might or might not have noticed, unhesitatingly critical of the Bishop of Rome when I think he is way out of line. I do it whenever I can see – through the comparison of his own behaviour and statement with objectively recognisable Church doctrine, basic decency, or common sense – that he is behaving in strident contrast to what is required of him. I do so persuaded that as God gives us a clearly recognisable set of rules, He also puts on us the duty to verify their observance, and to make us heard if this is not the case. If God has allowed you to see, you have no right to make yourself blind.
If, however, it is not given to me to verify that what the Pope states is in accordance with God's rules, but the rules of the Church tell me I have to believe it anyway and God will take care the Pope does not mess around, then I will do the only thing I am able to do, and the only thing that is left to do: submit, believe, and obey.
How can God allow that there be officially canonised bogus Saints? Would this not be an offence to all the true ones, a mockery of their sainthood, and a bomb put under the devotion of the Church Militant? How can this be squared with what your grand-grandmother has always believed, and believed because this is what the Church has constantly taught? What kind of Traditionalism is that?
Now, I am absolutely sure in the next weeks and months all kind of theories will emerge. Minority positions held once upon a time by the one or the other. Strange theories about the Church not really saying what everyone has always believed the Church was saying. Outlandish snippets of Saints of the past taken out of context.
I promise you, I will read whatever comes from worthy sources – like the SSPX, of course – with great attention; but frankly, the obstacle as we write the 5 March 2014 seems insurmountable to me, because against it is the huge wall of an infallibility I cannot but see as generally believed these last 2,000 years.
When it is not given to understand, then, I think, is the moment to obey. I cannot understand everything, but – sinner as I am – I will strive to obey in everything I can. Christ will not ask me, on that fateful day, if I was the smartest of the bunch, or had not come to the conclusion that the Church He found was wrong in what I can't prove wrong. I hope He will, at least in this matter, be satisfied enough that having been given no instruments to understand which is which, I have trusted what He said I have to believe in the matter.
Terrible times are awaiting us. We have apparently arrived to the mockery of the miracle – just to be logical: the “cure” of a feared malformation, or disease, is no cure at all -. But even a miracle is no necessary component of God calling one to heaven; and it is merely a procedural – and again: not obligatory – step of the current or even the old canonisation process. Let the proclamations of “miracles” become as stupid as they want. God will not be fooled by them.
I will therefore believe – until sensible evidence to the contrary – in the infallibility of canonisations.
If Francis is playing fast and loose with God even on this, I trust God will rid us of the canonisation, and possibly of the Pope himself; because whilst God will allow him to say he slaps people on the wrist at the most – which every Christian can see is rubbish – God will not allow him to make a mockery of Sainthood.
Put your trust in the Lord. Faith is the evidence of things not seen.
I am no friend of JP II’s papacy. If you ask me, he has supervised and administered a 25 year-long decay of Christianity, undermining the Church’s strength with unspeakable episcopal appointments and not seeing (or not caring for) the decomposition of Catholic instruction all over the West; the last phenomenon, a slow but effective cancer whose effects we are experiencing now, poisoned an entire generation of Catholics who live and go to vote with only vague ideas about what they are supposed to believe and why. As a result, Catholicism has been slowly withering in the Western world, whilst the growth in Asia and Africa and the media successes of the Pontiff (full airports, and “icon status”) lulled the Vatican in the illusion everything is, more or less, fine.
Still, looking back at JP II’s pontificate, one can see an area where his work has been, at least in words, persistent and very counter-cultural: abortion. John Paul’s insisted returning on the issue did in time leave traces, and the slogan of the “culture of death” has now become mainstream. It is impossible not to notice that the slow swing in the abortion battle was made possible also through the contribution of an honest soul who, by all his shortcoming as a Pontiff, knew how to be stubborn on issues particularly near to his heart.
In my eyes, the times are ripe for the start of a second crusade: the War On Sodomy. If a Pope were courageous enough as to put the matter square in the middle of the sociopolitical debate, we would not have to wait many years before the entire planet starts to listen.
A Pope insistently pointing out to the total opposition of Sodomy and Christianity, and to the utter and total impossibility for everyone who aids and abets or even condones sodomy to call himself a Christian (not a Catholic, mind; a Christian) would certainly cause a huge uproar among the blaspheming classes, but would inevitably attract, in due course, the attention of the Catholic masses.
It takes time before the masses move; what you notice is rather a small shift in perception, due to natural causes as generations themselves shift, and to the natural tendencies of most to follow what they think most think, confusing error with wisdom whenever the error is widely spread. In order to shake the masses from their torpor you need a kind of shock treatment, a shift of paradigm able to bring the world to attention in a relatively short time.
What we need is a roaring Church rather than a meowing one; a Church ready to give battle rather than timid counsel; a Church not shy in letting their opponents understand once she has chosen an enemy, she will go on until his complete political annihilation (Obama and Andrew Cuomo immediately come to mind). This can ,very probably, be done in the smart way without even losing tax privileges, though tax privileges should never be in the way of Christianity and I do not think tax consideration should really be an issue. Never did a courageous Church lack conversions, martyrs, and the necessary means.
A roaring Pope starting a true war on Sodomy would in time not fail to shift the public perception on the matter. This war should not only be wages with words through encyclical letters, radio and TV speeches, tweets if he likes, and so on; but more importantly it should be founded on actual actions like the appointments of only the most rigidly orthodox as bishops, the purging of seminaries from every heretical tendency, a massive cleanup among dissenting nuns and friars, and an aggressive intervention in all political debates involving Christian values. In just a few years, sodomy would soon be seen again as a disgusting, abominable perversion that is just the epitome of everything that is wrong with Godlessness, instead of a strange but very fashionable quirk of people unjustly persecuted by bigots. The narrative of the progressive citizen who “loves his gays” and feels so inclusive and tolerant works because the progressive citizen isn’t told he is an idiot bent for hell, and even our prelates seem unable to miss any one occasion to say how oh so caring they are.
What we need now is a frontal attack, not inclusive waffle.
One quarter of the English Catholic clergy signs a letter, and be assured in Westminster and Downing Hill there are preoccupied faces already. If there was an all out attack be assured the meetings at Number 10 would have as only issue out to get out of the mess and try to save face. They are scared of a couple of perverts’ lobbies, knowing the Church is out for their scalp would scare them witless.
We have Cardinals inviting enemies of Christianity to prestige dinners instead, and even when there is a reaction (see sodomarriage in England), this is too little, and with people with no credibility whatever in the matter. The best example is Archbishop Vincent “Quisling” Nichols, a man already compromised with so-called civil partnership and the least fit to tell us why we should upheld Christian values.
“Rorate Coeli” re-published a brilliant contribution from a member of the American Catholic Lawyers association, Christopher Ferrara. The contribution is longish, but fascinating and even if it has been written some years ago, it still maintains a great deal of actuality.
Mr. Ferrara examines SC with a lawyer’s spectacles, with a view of seeing what SC mandates and what it allows. It seems to be that his detailed analysis has as main aims:
1) to ascertain to what extent the Novus Ordo we know and hate has been authorised by SC;
2) to understand how it could be approved by certainly conservative bishops, in primis by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre;
3) to see whether the Latin Mass can be restored based on SC, and
4) what is the way forward, if not.
To 1), Mr. Ferrara convincingly proves that every modification originated by the Novus Ordo (and which does not constitute an obvious, liturgical abuse) can easily be justified in the light of SC. He points out (as Romano Amerio before him had often done) to the utterly contradictory mixture of conservative and progressive norms, with solemn statements of the will to preserve tradition immediately followed by the authorisation to proceed to sweeping modification every time that unspecified local needs should be taken into account. This apparent hysteria is, as it is clear now, rather the fruit of the will of Bugnini & Co. to reassure conservative Bishops with solemn statements of continuity of tradition whilst at the same time opening vast portals to utterly unspecified, arbitrarily decided changes by local communities. The strategy obviously worked as the document was approved and the sweeping liturgical modifications introduced in the following years were never seen by both Paul VI and JP II as being against the letter or the spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Ferrara’s case is solidly made: the argument that the Novus Ordo itself (again: leaving aside liturgical abuses) is not in compliance with SC’s norms is untenable. The Novus Ordo we have today is very clearly what was wanted, the fragmentation of the rite into a myriad of different languages and regional variations explicitly desired.
To 2), Ferrara points out to an important psychological, if not legal, factor in the Bishop’s approval. Sacrosanctum Concilium is so structured, that no substantial changes are made mandatory. The picture coming out from the reading is one of a document saying “we want to leave pretty much everything as it is, unless we introduce changes“. The options about changes are, though, so many and so undetermined, that the door to an almost unrecognisable Roman Rite was open wide. We know the results.
As Ferrara brilliantly writes,
A lawyer knows that the dangers in a contract from his client’s perspective lie not so much in what the terms of the contract provide as in what they permit the other party to do. The danger is in the loopholes. Quite simply, SC permits all manner of drastic things to be done to the Roman liturgy. It is one long collection of loopholes. If a lawyer entrusted with the task of protecting the Roman liturgy from harmful innovation had drafted this document, he would be guilty of gross malpractice.
This makes also clear why conservative Bishops like Lefebvre did approve the document. It wouldn’t have been prudent to reject the document altogether in view of its stated conservative character, but it was wise to point out to the dangers to which a mediocre wording would expose the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre actually did both (approving and warning) and in retrospect I would say that his conduct appears – once more – wise.
To 3), the obvious conclusion from what has been said up to now is that the idea that the New Mass is a violation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is untenable. This point seems very important to the author, which leads me to think that years ago the theory must have enjoyed vast popularity. But really, to espouse such a thinking would not only contradict the clear wording of SC (of which Ferrara brings many examples) but would also imply that two Popes have been gravely erring for decades in the interpretation of such an important Conciliar document.
To 4), the author has an interesting perspective. In his eyes, SC should not be modified or specified or guidelines to its interpretations given. Sacrosanctum Concilium deals with the Novus Ordo; it is not a doctrinal statement about how the Mass should look like, but merely a document stating how the mass may be modified. As things stand now, SC has been already implemented or, as Ferrara says in legal terms, has “merged” with the new Mass. Therefore there is, in legal terms, no SC anymore, only the New Mass it generated. As a consequence, the setting aside of the Novus ordo Mass will be the setting aside of Sacrosanctum Concilium. No need for any backpedaling, or modifications, or new interpretations. Just put the NO in the coldest part of the freezer and no further action will be required. Conversely, as SC clearly authorised all the sweeping changes we have experienced, its twisting to let it mean that those changes were never authorised or its modification to let it say the contrary of what it always meant doesn’t really make sense.
Let us conclude with the author’s very reasonable words:
The only way to restrain that mentality and restore liturgical sanity in the Roman Rite is full restoration of our Latin liturgical tradition – taken from us overnight, only 30 years ago.