Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Pope and traditionalists: rapprochement?

Whatever you might think of Pope Francis, one big positive is that he does seem to be listening.

Many traditionally oriented (and neo-conservative) Catholics have been pretty unhappy with the new regime to date, due to things like some extremely odd comments (and gestures) on the record and off, his liturgical 'minimalism', and the disturbing restrictions placed on the Franciscans of the Immaculate saying the Traditional Latin Mass.

But over the last week or so there have been reports suggesting a concerted attempt to repair relationships, and rebalance the books somewhat.  Let's hope it continues!

Positive gestures

Some of the positive notes sounded in the last week or so towards the more traditionally oriented within the Church include:
  •  'that interview' was thankfully removed from the Vatican website (an event that got almost as much coverage as the original story in some quarters!);
  • the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) are currently celebrating twenty-five years since a small group of priests split from the SSPX and reconciled with Rome.  And the Pope apparently sent the French District a congratulatory message for the occasion through the French Nuncio (did he send one to the Fraternity as a whole?), lauding their loyalty to Peter;
  • reports that the Pope made one of those 'Hi it's Francis calling' phone calls (!) to a traditionalist critic who is gravely ill.  The man had actually been fired by an Italian Catholic broadcaster after he wrote a critical piece on Pope Francis.  The Pope, however, acknowledged the importance of constructive criticism; and
  • an endorsement for the work of an advocate of the 'hermeneutic of continuity' approach to interpreting Vatican II, with an implicit slam of the progressive 'Bologna' school.
Yes, (a)catholics he was talking about you!

And the fifth strand to this rebalancing effort are some comments clearly targeting the 'progressives'.

According to Vatican Radio, one of his 'Domus Martha sermons' lauds adherence to our traditions in the interest of resisting secularism, and attacked that 'adolescent progressivism' that sees doctrine and practice as negotiable:

"Often he said, the people of God prefer to distance themselves from the Lord in favour of worldly proposals. He said worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This – the Pope admonished – is called apostasy, which he said is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord...

And Pope Francis warned that this happens today. Moved by the spirit of worldliness, people negotiate their fidelity to the Lord, they negotiate their identity, and they negotiate their belonging to a people that God loves. 

And with a reference to the 20th century novel “Lord of the World” that focuses on the spirit of worldliness that leads to apostasy, Pope Francis warned against the desire to “be like everyone else” and what he called an “adolescent progressivism”. “What do you think?” – he said bitterly – “that today human sacrifices are not made? Many, many people make human sacrifices and there are laws that protect them”...

Good to hear.

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