Over the Top

I apologise to those readers who were shocked by my last post if it bore the hallmarks of an over-reaction or somewhat 'over the top' reaction to a media report that has the flavour of Roman gossip about it.

If this report is false, then I retract it in its entirety because it is unnecessary. If it is true and plans are afoot to 'replace' a Pope with another, I stand by every word. Perhaps unwisely, the post was based entirely on this 'IF'.

With that said, Catholics cannot be blamed for being somewhat sensitive right now. The last conclave was dogged by rumours and public records hinting very strongly that the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis may have been in some way compromised in a manner that the Church regards as illegal, with such consequences that entail automatic excommunication upon those persons who may or may not have been involved in 'vote-canvassing' for a particular candidate. This is due to laws fashioned during the reign of St John Paul II that forbade it under pain of just such a penalty.

This controversy is a matter of public record and I find it difficult to rule out the possibility that this controversy has ramifications for the papacy and the Church that are still with us today and may be with us for quite some time.

Not only is a controversy over the last conclave well within the public domain, but further controversies emerged in the wake of the 2013 election that suggested that it may even have been the case that 'pressure', of an unknown kind, could have been applied to Pope Benedict XVI in order to get him to step down. Again, this is not a fact, but a controversy that persists. I make no judgement on these matters, for how can I? I am only a lay person. It is for a competent authority to judge the truth of these matters at a time when it can be assessed in its fullness.

However, while these controversies persist and have never been emphatically laid to rest, it seems completely beyond my comprehension how a 'group of Cardinals' could be reported in the mainstream press to be considering both:

a) pressuring the current Pope to resign and
b) replacing him with a pre-determined candidate who we must assume would already have accepted the pre-determined nature of the role

I heed advice given to me to remain calm, in the likelihood that this report in The Times is false. I hope and pray it is false. I reserve the right to be seriously not calm if - and I stress if - that report is true. If it were true, it would have grave ramifications for the Church. Both a) and b) are, in fact, illegal within the Church.

If the report were to be true, then all law and order in the Church would have broken down and the papacy is simply at the mercy of powerful men with no interest for the good of the Church, but rather for the strength and respectability of their party or faction within the Church. Or should we no longer be shocked by this possibility because we are numb after four years of doctrinal mayhem and disdain for Church laws and even the Law of God Himself?

I then went on to discuss that the only way to remove a Pope is by deposition. A Pope cannot be deposed by force or external pressure, but only by an unprecedented and extraordinary tribunal held by the competent authorities, after a trial in which the Supreme Pontiff has been found to have ceased, or never to have possessed, authority over the People of God, either by not possessing, teaching or believing the Catholic Faith himself, or by the tribunal concluding that his election was invalid and that he reigned as an anti-Pope. Or both. If Cardinals were trying to oust or 'persuade' Francis to go without recourse to some sort of legal framework, that would have serious ramifications for the validity of the next conclave (should that come about) as Church laws would have been abrogated in an arbitrary manner, possibly not for the first time, for the sake of nothing but expedience. Whatever one may think of Francis and his own attitude to laws, they are there for the protection of the Church and they should be observed.

Perhaps, you might say, these things simply should not be discussed and, if so, they should be discussed in an objective and sober manner. I apologise for the general tone of my last post. I was angry and shocked at the media report. I could scarcely believe it and yet, I could believe it. I can believe quite easily that a cabal of Cardinals are frightened that Pope Francis is leading the Church to an inexorable path of destruction and that his complete unpredictability is a liability both for that cabal and for a wider circle of Cardinals who believe that something must be done. Perhaps these things should not be discussed, but if the report is true then they are being discussed in the highest parts of the Church.

Those who say these things should not be discussed may very well be right in that belief, in which case may the number of Cardinals and Bishops faithful to the Truth of Jesus Christ be emboldened and give as much possible support, in public and private, as they can to the four Cardinals and to their dubia, so that, far from 'pressuring' Francis to resign, the Princes of the Church may insistently ask Pope Francis to teach the perennial Faith of the Church and, if he will not give answer, explore the legal avenues within their sphere of influence to begin a process which may result in an assembly which can ascertain whether the Pope is, indeed, a Catholic, one who professes and holds the Faith of Christ, a necessary prerequisite to reigning as a legitimate Pope.

There is justification for calling an assembly of just this kind, since Pope Francis refuses to answer five simple questions concerning immutable Catholic doctrine. If Pope Francis does not wish such a process to be a possibility, he can of his own volition either a) answer the dubia and teach the perennial Catholic Faith or b) resign, thereby leaving known or unknown the motives for his resignation. If he didn't want to give his true motives in his resignation, he could always suggest that he was growing older and more frail and the Church needed a younger and fitter man for the demands of an Office with such grave responsibilities. Such a process would be completely legal, faithful to the laws of the Church and respect both Pope Francis and his august and esteemed Office.

But like I said, if the media report is false, then I apologise for my over-reaction to a false rumours spread in the international press.

And no, I am not drunk.


Oakes Spalding said…
It wasn't over the top at all. It was precisely right. Benedict's abdication, the rumors of manipulation by the St. Galen group and of course this pontificate itself have created a bizarre tone that I think will be almost impossible to shake. All faithful Catholics are praying that the current "term" will soon come to an end. But I'm afraid that all hell will break loose after that. I have no idea what the answer is.
ellen said…
I believe St. Thomas Aquinas said that a person should be angry when it is just to be angry and it seems to me that one should be shocked when something truly shocking is said. It is shocking to hear reports that a cabal of cardinals might be contemplating pressuring a pope to resign. At one time we would have immediately dismissed such a report as unbelievable, "fake news", but lately so much that is unbelievable has turned out to be true that we may be forgiven for being wary. Your reaction seemed normal to me. Thank you for giving us your considered opinion today. I find it valuable.
Midwestern Girl said…
Where did you get this story? I searched and don't seem to find anything like it.
Cassandra said…
No, I now realise you weren't drunk, just concerned about something you feel deeply about. One of the realities that I have faced in my life is that I am largely powerless and all sorts of things happen 'out there' that I have no influence on. That is ok, because by faith I know that God is in charge of his church. I am not in charge (thank goodness). I do the tiny, minuscule things I think I can do (which may or may not be useful in the scheme of things), then leave it to God. Being powerless myself is wonderful because I can then rely totally on God. Julian of Norwich, the anchorite, and her 'Shewings' is someone I admire.

“...deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, 'You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well', as if he said, 'Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.”
― Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
Cassandra said…
Here is a link about Julian of Norwich
Anonymous said…
Mr. Bones, you are right that pressuring a pope to resign is against all the canons that have been put in place. There is that disturbing passport photo of pope francis that I think you may have posted in an article a while back. We saw pope francis in the photo of his passport for Argentina wearing the papal white. If he is pope for life, why keep an Argentinian passport? So may questions that I would not like to worry about, but I hope Our Lord takes comfort in the fact that so may of us are sad and worried about His Church and are waiting impatiently for better days.
Anonymous said…
I am on your side, Mr.Bones, but this BoR is a snake hard to take, his passport was renewed after his incoronation, he's not a Vatican citizen and this fact, for a Pope, a monarch and a Bishop of Rome, is very serious and difficult to understand, may be he is a pro tempore pope, but who are we to judge?
Liam Ronan said…
I did not then, and do not now, believe your original post or this subsequent one are over the top and that you need to calm down, Bones. Keep at it. Real 'Mercy', i.e. is speaking the unadorned truth.

For my part, I find that Francis and his troupe are a merciless lot par excellence. True Mercy, that Mercy found in the Gospel, 'admonishes the sinner' in order to save them from their sins and from the fires of Hell.

By the way, if an acquaintance chanced upon you in the street and reported to you that he/she heard your house was on fire, would you dash home or inquire around to independently verify if such was the case before sprining into action?

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