What the Fisher More Situation Teaches Us

The current situation with Fisher More College is the new handle on the radical traditionalist axe.  As though an indisputable fact, it is being compared with the restrictions placed on the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy within the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.  The story goes that whatever the problems might have been in these institutions there simply can be no legitimate reasons, or motivations of pastoral charity, that would justify a moratorium on the use of the old Missal.  But I believe a more apt comparison is to be drawn between the way in which the two situations have been used for propaganda purposes by these traditionalists.

In both cases there has been a leaking of documentation to Internet blogger/journalists, whose credentials show them to be, not just advocates for the full implementation of Summorum Pontificum, but also mouthpieces for the extreme side of traditionalism (end of the reform of the reform, the horror of Pope Francis, the impossibility of a hermeneutic of continuity, etc.).  Likewise, in both cases there has been a great deal of prejudicial conjecture, placing the worst possible interpretation on the decisions made by the Church.  In the case of the FI, the problem has been fire-bombed with conspiracy theory and the wholesale destruction of reputations.  It needs to be clear that is has been the traditionalist sources that have made a public spectacle of these ecclesiastical problems.  If any reputations have been damaged on either side, it has been due to the fact that they chose to fight this problem out in the public square. Continue reading

Who Really are the Christian Ideologues?

Rorate Caeili posted a translation of an article by Corrado Gnerre from Il Giudizio Cattolico, entitled “Who are the real ‘Christian Ideologues’?”, which addresses Pope Francis’ critique of ideology within the Church. While I do not agree with his conclusions, I think Gnerre helps to clarify the problem that Pope Francis is trying to correct.

Ignoring the Facts

Gnerre defines ideology as a “hypertrophic condition of the intellect” by which one chooses to put faith in one’s “own theoretical and intellectual constructions” rather than to see the observable facts.  It is “an enlarging of the intellect in size without an increase in perception and understanding,” resulting in “a blind spot in the intellectual mind itself.”  In other words, an ideologue gets so rapt up in his prejudices and pet theories that he is incapable of acknowledging the existence of counterfactuals.  And the ideologue’s problem is not emotional bias, but a very rational and systematic presentation and defense of his theory, albeit, a house of cards that cannot sustain a comparison with the facts, because the theory itself demands that the facts be ignored.  I believe that Gnerre’s definition is correct. Continue reading

Pope Francis on the Use of the Extraordinary Form

The former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy has told a traditionalist group that Pope Francis has no intention of restricting access to the Extraordinary Form of the Latin liturgy.

“I met Pope Francis very recently and he told me that he has no problem with the old rite, and neither does he have any problem with lay groups and associations like yours that promote it,” Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told members of Una Voce International (FIUV), who were in Rome for a general assembly.

Responding to questions from FIUV members about tensions within the Friars of the Immaculate, the Colombian cardinal said that the Pope moved to insist on the use of the Novus Ordo in that religious community only because of internal dissension, and not because of any negative judgment on the traditional liturgy.

At its general assembly, FIUV elected a new president: James Bogle, a lawyer, author, and chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain. “We are very grateful to His Eminence Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, His Eminence Cardinal Brandmüller, and to Archbishop Pozzo for taking part in our General Assembly of the International Federation Una Voce,” Bogle said in a brief statement to CWN. “We are very pleased with the way the celebration of the traditional Mass is now going worldwide. We are obviously very grateful to Benedict XVI and also our present Pope Francis for all the support that they have given us in our right to worship in the traditional Roman rite.”

From the publication…

Quote

From the publication—authorized—of data from the questionnaire it becomes clear that there are serious internal problems in the Institute. It also becomes clear how pretentious is the campaign organized by those who have cried foul on account of the Vatican’s appointment of a Commissioner to the Institute and on account of the decision made at that time by the Pope to limit their faculty to celebrate the old Mass, submitting it to the authorization of the Superior, that is, of the Commissioner. This campaign culminated in public appeals to the friars encouraging them to disobey the directives of the Holy See, and in verbally violent attacks against the presumed small group of “traitors” within the Institute. Finally, one must not forget that the old Mass continues to be authorized in churches under the care of the Franciscans of the Immaculate where there are stable groups of faithful that desire to attend that form of the Mass, as per the provisions of Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.

—Andrea Tornielli

The decree of the Commissioner…

Quote

“The decree of the Commissioner, dated 11 July, 2013 indicates the purpose of the measure taken which is: ‘the goal of preserving and promoting the internal unity of the Institute as well as the fraternal communion, adequate formation to religious and consecrated life, the organization of apostolic activities, and the correct management of temporal goods.’ Five brothers who in the past had occupied positions of high responsibility in the Institute, at the beginning of 2012 sought out dialogue with the Founder and his Council in order to express what in their view were irregularities, beginning with liturgical choices that did not however, exhaust the list of their concerns. Unsatisfied, they then approached the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Doctrine of the Faith. Those who manifest their conscience to an authority, which in this case is the Church headed by the Pope, by this very action itself, prove that they recognize this authority as such, and which therefore excludes any attitude of ‘rebellion’ on their part towards those in power. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life recognized extremes and therefore an apostolic visitation began in the second half of that year. Each friar in perpetual vows, as agreed by the General Council then in office, was provided with a questionnaire protected under the secret of one’s conscience.”

Fr. Alfonso Bruno, General Secretary, FI

Vatican Insider Interview with FI Spokesman

Unofficial translation of the Italian original follows:

Vatican City
In an order whose predominant attention is to the traditional liturgy. A decree of the Pope appoints an apostolic commissioner

Alessandro Speciale
Vatican City

The Congregation for Religious, with the approval of Pope Francis, decided last July 11 to appoint a commissioner to the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a religious order in which the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi had, in recent years, been combined with a predominant attention given to the traditional liturgy.

The appointing of a commissioner, one reads in the decree of the vatican ‘ministry’ for religious orders, aims to “protect and promote the internal unity of religious institutes and their fraternal communion, their adequate formation in religious and consecrated life, the organization of apostolic activities “and” the proper management of temporal goods. ” Continue reading

The FI’s and Pope Francis: Two Updates

It was reported in the Catholic online press today that our religious community, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, has been assigned an Apostolic Commissioner by the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life.  Pope Francis has ordered the decree which goes into effect on August 12.

Pope Francis has also severely restricted our use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and this has been reported by a major italian journalist as a “contradiction” of Pope Benedict’s permission granted in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.  This is an unfortunate instance of an overeager journalist sensationalizing something he can only speculate about.

The restrictions on our community are specific to us and have been put in place for reasons specific to us.  Pope Francis has not contradicted Pope Benedict.  The visitation of our community began under Pope Benedict and the Commission was recommended by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz who was appointed to the Congregation by Pope Benedict.

What is being reported in the press and what has actually transpired within our community over the course of a number of years are two different things.

Many of us—I would hope most of us—Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, welcome the Holy Father’s intervention into our life and trust fully that Holy Mother Church knows exactly what she is doing, even when the journalists do not.  We entrust ourselves to her care, just as we do to the Immaculate.

Please pray for our Institute.

Update 1:

Many of the comments in the blogosphere about Pope Francis concerning his decision in regard to our Institute are simply disgraceful, and “justified” by the most tenuous rationalizations.  He is the Vicar of Christ.  It is less than twenty-four hours since this hit the Internet and so many think they have got it all figured out.  I have also seen sheer fabrications about the situation in our Institute within some of these comments.  May God have mercy on us.  Thank God for all the holy popes we have had for the past fifty years, who all have had much to suffer.

Update 2:

I am closing down the comments now on these posts concerning the situation in the Institute.  I left comments open to make a point, which the some of the commenters have made for me.  Either you get the point or you don’t.  There is no point in trying to explain it.

The contempt, disrespect and spirit of disobedience shown toward the Vicar of Christ, I repudiate.  May God have mercy on us.

The Art of Celebration

The liturgical difference between Francis and Benedict XVI has been one of the most noted contrasts between the new pope and his predecessor.  Since the day he was elected, when he dispensed with the mozzetta at his first greeting of the faithful from the loggia of St. Peters, he has opted for plainer liturgical style for papal functions.  His washing of the feet of girls, one of whom was a Muslim, on Holy Thursday, has been noted by some as the end of Pope Benedict’s reform of the reform.  Likewise, his choice to celebrate in parishes within his own diocese according the liturgical customs of the place, rather than impose the standards of his Vatican celebrations, has been noted as an undoing of Pope Benedict’s efforts to restore lost traditions.  But Benedictine Abbot Michael Zielinski, from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, sees the differences as complementary rather than contradictory.

I think it is worth noting here again that, both in the order of being and in the order of logic, two things or assertions that are different, or contrary, are not for that reason contradictory.  That there might be a greater or lesser degree of solemnity, magnificence, or ritual purity, does not mean that the greater end of the spectrum is reverent and the lesser end irreverent.  This is a distinction that seems to be lost on many who are inclined to be reactive against the differences, rather than responsive to the Vicar of Christ. Continue reading

The Postconciliar Moment

I wrote the following article shortly after the beginning of the new year.  At the time I was not sure what I wanted to do with it, but now, in the light of the negative responses to the Holy Father’s abdication, I think it is time for me to put it out.

Rather than revise it in the light of the recent events,  I am just going to leave it the way it is. It is long, but it provides significant research into crypto-traditionalism and why it is a pernicious problem that needs to be called out.

NB:  The links to the endnotes are not functioning at the moment.  I will try to fix them.

The Postconciliar Moment

The Year of Faith provides a backdrop for recent developments regarding the hoped for regularization of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and the ongoing controversy concerning the Second Vatican Council.  Not only have questions been raised about the doctrinal value of the Council itself, but also of what position Pope Benedict has taken on the matter of the Council’s continuity with Tradition.  I contend that those who denigrate the Council because they find major parts of it to be in rupture with Tradition do so along ideological linesand are therefore compelled either to publicly disagree with the Holy Father or to cherry-pick from his teaching.

Year of Faith

This Year of Faith, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, might be characterized as the postconciliar moment.  We are beneficiaries of both the patrimony of the conciliar texts and a very problematic postconciliar implementation of them.  We have witnessed extremes of all kinds, but mostly those of the progressive wing.  All the while, the postconciliar popes have been patiently and consistently working to restore the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council to both Tradition and legitimate progress.  In a particular way, Pope Benedict has made it his task to bring about a reconciliation with our past, without, however, backing away from the legitimate aspirations of the Council indicated in its actual texts.[1]

I believe the Year of Faith may be the postconciliar moment for two reasons:  First, we are witnessing a very definite shift from progressivism to traditionalism.  This has been occurring for some time, but is now plainly evident.  Progressivism is slowly growing out of fashion and the trend, at least in some circles, is moving definitely toward traditionalism. Continue reading

A Year of Faith or a Year of Doubt?

This is the last installment of a series that I originally planned to be just two posts, but has turned out to be four.  I link to them, not in the order that I posted them, but in the order of their logical development.   First, there is a bit of background about my own experience and formation with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and what I mean by the term “traditionalism,” and why I think a discussion of it is important (“Traditionalism and Liturgy”).  Second, is a an explanation of the stated motives of Pope Benedict XVI for having promulgated the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum and what he means by the “reform of the reform” (“The Spirit of Summorum Pontificum”). The third installment is an examination of what the current debate over the “hermeneutic of continuity” is all about and why a statement of Pope Benedict has been used speciously as a pretext to question the continuity of Vatican II with Tradition (“Traditionalist Sleight of Hand”).  And lastly, here I wish to illustrate the current problem of sympathy for traditionalism by means of the contrast between traditionalist incursions and the responses to them from the Vatican over the last several years.

On October 11, 2011, Pope Benedict promulgated an apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, “the Door of Faith” in which he announced “A Year of Faith” to begin in exactly one year on October 11, 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict tells us that he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, who in 1967 announced a year of faith to commemorate the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdoms of Saints Peter and Paul.

I believe that this announcement is both providential and calculated.  The Holy Father is taking opportunity of the providence of God in the arrival of these anniversaries to address a mounting “orthodox” contempt for the Second Vatican Council—a traditionalist sleight of hand that proposes to dissect the Council and analyze it according to contingent opinions about Tradition and then invoke Pope Benedict as the one who mandated the exercise.  For a growing number of traditional Catholics, in spite of fifty years of papal teaching, the problems of our times within the Church were not occasioned by disintegration of modernity hitting the Church at the time of the Council.  On the contrary, they tell us, the Council itself has been the cause of a great anti-dogmatic revolution.  And Pope Benedict is on their side, they say!

Continue reading