Saturday, December 16, 2017


When Pope Benedict was elected pope, the progressive wing of the Church was not pleased and many of the aging voices then (still with us, my age and much, much older, like Cardinal Kasper) sounded the alarm that the CDF watchdog would cause great polarization in the Church.

That did not happen, although the secular world was definitely against Pope Benedict, but more like  howling dogs and screaming cats rather than a groundswell. When Pope Benedict visited England, everyone said His Holiness would be shunned and embarrassed, but the opposite occurred and by all standards, the English pilgrimage was a triumph.

To be sure there were scandals at the Vatican under Pope Benedict and Pope Benedict's closest advisors did not serve His Holiness well and Pope Benedict was too reticent to do anything about it which many believe led to his downfall.

Fast forward to today. We see in the current papacy the same polarization that occurred following Vatican II although not to the same level. Progressiveness in the Church in the last 50 years is the culprit that has divided and weakened the Church causing great polarization. Younger Catholics were unaware of this but now they know full well.

But it isn't all bad news.

This may seem mean spirited, but what we see in the papacy of Pope Francis the last hurrah of His Holiness' age bracket of progressive thinkers who elevated Vatican II and its progressive spirit to a dogma when in reality Vatican II isn't a dogmatic council and no dogmas were promulgated as it concerns the Mass, the sacraments, Christology or ecclesiology.

And certainly dialogue "with the world, with our separated brethren and with non Christian faiths" is far from a theology or doctrine and weaker than limbo!

So the mixed blessing of Pope Francis' papacy may ultimately be a great blessing only:

1. We are seeing, once again as in the 1960's,  what progressive ideologies do to the Catholic Church and her faithful and it isn't good for Catholic identity, morale or growth.

2. We are seeing the difference between authentic dialogue and consultation and what is manipulation and smoke screen on the synodal level which has been practiced on the diocesan and parish level which make Church life more political and divisive.

3. We are seeing that the loss of Catholic culture and European sensibilities lead to a loss of majesty and respect for institutional aspects of the Church. The majestic trappings of the Church pointing to the other worldliness of Catholic piety and theology makes the Church a place of the glimpse of heaven whereas its loss points to the depressingly mundane.

4. Pope Francis emphasis on popular devotions will serve the Church well in the future, especially coming from a progressive person.

5. The same is true of the recovery of speaking about the devil and that he prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls

6. Pope Francis' emphasis on pastoral theology and making the ministry of the Church more sensitive to the lives of Catholics is laudable although at times misdirected and enabling of mortal sin, but ultimately will serve the Church well with future refinement and the truth that pristine Catholic teaching is liberating rather than repressive.

7. Pope Francis has halted future hopes (for the immediate present) of a refinement of the Ordinary Form of the Mass but only in terms of the return of more Latin prescribed for the Mass, kneeling for Holy Communion and the trend toward ad orientem. But other than that, Pope Francis has maintained the status quo of the manner in which Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass.

Overall, my sense of things is that Pope Benedict was more appreciated by rank and file parishioners than Pope Francis is, although Pope Francis is a populist and the appreciation shown for him is more personality driven and thus very superficial. Appreciation for Pope Benedict was deeper.

What do you think rank and file attitudes towards both popes are in general?


TJM said...

When I think of Pope Francis I think of a left-wing politician who craves the adoration of fellow lefties and a man who is cruel and heartless NS with no mercy when it comes to those truly faithful to the Church's teachings and traditional praxis. I also think of a man who is in over his head theologically, not in the same class intellectually with the previous 6 pontiffs.

Anonymous said...

I think the next pope will be worse than Francis ever dreamed of being. He has stacked the college of cardinals with 100 died in the wool liberal, heterodox bishops like himself. They aren’t going to vote for a Burke or a Scola or an Erdo (who should have been pope). They will vote for that giggling embarrassment Tagle. Get ready everybody. After Francis abolishes celibacy it will then be time to kick everything into high gear. He’ll be gone and the next one will begin the female priest thing. And as usual the bishops will be silent. It’s clear that pack of spineless jelly fishes aren’t going to defend the Faith. As usual it will be a small group of laity. God save us this nightmare has only begun.

TJM said...

Anonymous (This one CAN"T be Kavanagh),

Precisely why I no longer contribute to Peter's Pence.

ByzRC said...

When Benedict was pope, there seemed to be more rank-and-file chatter about him, something he said, how beautiful his liturgies were (it seemed special again) and that he seemed like a kind, grandfatherly figure. As for the priests that I know, there was an upbeat feeling - a Benedict is making it ok to be Catholic again. Having been involved at my parish during that time, it was energizing.

Opposite that and contrary to the reception he received by the media, no one really talks about Francis - you do hear the occasional he seems like he's doing a good job however, watching his liturgies etc. is no longer priority and some cringe whenever he speaks given the potential for collateral damage. As for the priests that I know, they are quiet and, I suppose, hoping the next pontificate brings about brighter days and clearer teaching.

TJM said...


Everything you have said is consistent with my experience. Unless you are a political lefty, consumed with the man-made global warming myth and begging for illegal aliens to over-run your country and destroy your culture, there isn't much in Francis that is inspiring, although we have one poster here who slobbers over Francis in the most obseqious and non-Catholic fashion. I believe St. John Paull II and Benedict XVI have planted the seeds that will ensure better days lie ahead!

ByzRC said...


I agree. Benedict radiated a joy and peacefulness that resonated with me. He seemed enthused about occupying the office and showed us how to be Catholic again. Conversely, Francis perplexes me and comes off as a dour, angry, aging socialist fighting an ideological revolution in which there are no winners. As much as I try to see the good, etc., I honestly find him to be depressing to the point where, anymore, I mostly ignore what goes on in Rome.

CharlesG said...

TJM, Like you I have to think all the good done by the previous two popes can’t have been in vain. I am a bit disgusted at the Church in its current leadership, but will maintain hope for the future.