Saturday 16 March 2013

Reaction to Pope Francis

There are a number of negative reactions to the election of Pope Francis. From the Traditional point of view one might well have read the fact that he appeared at the Balcony without the rochet and mozzetta, along with the absence of Traditional Masses in Buenos Aires, as signifying an aversion to Tradition. Really, such an aversion remains to be seen since he has been Pope less than a week. To be honest, I find it hard to imagine that anyone moving to high office in the Church would do so in contempt for the Church’s past and the right of the faithful to their heritage, so I expect to see the trajectory in the recovery of doctrine and liturgy put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI respectively, continued. Indeed, to try to remodel the Church by obstructing or abandoning her heritage would be to try to remodel the Church in one’s own image. Not a sign of holiness, I venture to say, so I do not expect to see such a remodelling.

What is of note is that on each of the first two days of his pontificate Pope Francis has spoken of the devil, indicating an awareness that we are in battle against the forces of darkness. This may be good news for Traditional Catholics who hold a great place in their spiritual lives for the prayer of St Michael, but a worry for liberals who would rather leave behind the idea that there is a personal devil who is engaging in a warfare against the Church of Christ. There is also the report that as Cardinal, Pope Francis criticised liberation ‘theology’ and was a voice against homosexual marriage, contraception and abortion as part of the human rights agenda.

We are told that Pope Francis is very much a man of collegiality. I do worry that if this is true he will disempower himself as Pope, but he cannot easily dispempower the Papacy if he takes the teaching of Vatican II seriously, for eventually a succeeding Pope will take to heart the Council’s teaching that

the body or college of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head.(27*) This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. 
The individual bishops, who are placed in charge of particular churches, exercise their pastoral government over the portion of the People of God committed to their care, and not over other churches nor over the universal Church. (Lumen gentium 22, 23, emphasis added).

In regard to the liturgy of the Church –which is a most important aspect of the Popes responsibility since it is in the liturgy that God is worshipped, the people formed and sanctified, and Catholic identity individually assimilated and publicly expressed, surely there is little to fear? The damage was done by Bugnini and his cohorts and the wild implementation they fostered and allowed in the early days of the reform. What we can hope for from Francis is that he does nothing to derail the reform of the reform. I am not so concerned that he will suppress Summorum Pontificum since he must surely be aware that the traditional liturgy is a heritage of the Catholic people to which they have a right, that rights are not to be suppressed, and that his authority is “to build and not to destroy” (2 Cor,13v10). So there is hope for the future. I hope.

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