|'So, if you could just discard 99% your cherished beliefs that would be great.'|
Everything about this papacy has been strange, confusing and unsettling, disturbing and worrying. I liked that description from the bishops of Kazakhstan - 'alien'.Yes, much of this pontificate has been foreign and 'alien' to Catholic sensibility, to Catholic feeling and to Catholic tradition. Jorge Mario Bergoglio sidled into the Seat of Peter with astonishing confidence and he lost no time in laying out the scope of his radical agenda still unfolding in real time. Clearly nothing in the same room as him is to be marked safe.
All along, however, tradition - at least some Catholic tradition - has been an uneasy ally of the man from the ends of the earth. He needs it. He lives off it. Without it, he dies! Tradition is the only thing that gives Francis the oxygen he has to say the things he says and be heard and taken seriously. It is an unspoken yet mysterious agreement that a Press which is nearly entirely secular in outlook continues to print and pay attention to the things that the Pope says, acknowledging insodoing that in some way the Pope is set apart from the rest of the Catholic Church in authority and enjoys within the Church greater power than does your average parish priest or bishop. In this area, the world reports the Church strictly on the Church's own terms. This is helpful for the Church when 'the man at the top' is a true believer and your average parish is ran by a heretical loon, but less helpful for the Church when these roles are reversed.
Indeed for Pope Francis, those papal traditions which actively engage the confidence of the Faithful are retained and they must be, despite being a 'radical' or even a 'revolutionary' in his own reported words. For example, for Francis the wearing of a white cassock and pectoral Cross are valuable items retained, while those that are deemed superfluous and unnecessary are dispensed with, such as wearing red shoes and enjoying living quarters in the Apostolic Palace. The white cassock is worn at all times to tell you he is Pope and enjoys great authority. Now here is a conveniently helpful tradition, no? The symbolism and message is clear. No other colour of cassock would do, even for a 'radical'. If anyone needs a white cassock, it is, in fact, a radical. Every Pope needs respectability. The red shoes are never worn to remind you that he does not tread the path of his predecessors, or honour the blood of Christ and His martyrs, but is striking out on his own path, one that looks upon Catholic tradition generally with something of a sneer. Such things are just silly traditions!
If the Pope were just another Catholic bishop or priest there is no reason why his opinions should be treated with any greater import than that of a bishop of a diocese in Kazakstan. It is only Catholic tradition that allows Francis and his co-workers the opportunity to persuade people that Amoris Laetitia is very, very important and should be taken very, very seriously by the whole Church. It is only Catholic tradition that maintains that 'Peter has spoken, so you best consider his words and take them to heart'.
After five years, it is clear that Francis and the St Gallen 'mafia' who thrusted him into global prominence need the papacy far more than the papacy needs him and them and the papacy serves Francis in a far greater capacity than he serves the papacy. Did you know that his actual job specification calls upon him to safeguard and defend the Deposit of Faith he has received and teach it to others? He doesn't do this, but is happy to utilise the great privileges that the papacy accords him to spread his personal opinions on everything and often to contradict the Magisterium of his predecessors. And just to illustrate how tiresomely painful this trend has become, we have pianist-theologians such as Stephen Walford to make apparent to us just what kind of knots we can tie ourselves up in if we decide that only an utterly schizophrenic attitude towards Catholic tradition will serve the Church of the 21st century.
Such men advance the position that a Pope is exonerated from all charges that he has made a treasonous departure from the clear and consistent teaching and practice of the Church by virtue of simply being Pope. In fact, not only is a Pope automatically exonerated from such charges, but these charges must in turn be applied to all those malefactors and 'dissenters' who would dare to challenge him or oppose his blatant attempt to undermine the perennial teaching of the Church on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. As Ed Condon writes today, we need to acknowledge too that changing discipline on Holy Communion is only the start of the revolution. In this reasoning, even if the Pope, to quote Francis, himself quoting St Ignatius of Loyala at the time, declared that 'black is white' and 'white is black', the Faithful would be bound to believe and accept it, putting aside all and any reason in their possession. Do you see just how wonderfully Catholic tradition, painted by him as untrustworthy and unreliable, serves Pope Francis? It goes something like this:
'Before I was Pope, I was a heterodox Cardinal. I sneered at much of what the Church confessed as Her teaching and secretly worked to undermine it. Before I was a heterdox Cardinal, I was a heterodox Archbishop. I sneered at much of what the Church confessed as Her teaching and secretly worked to undermine it. Before I was a heterodox Archbishop, I was a heterodox priest. I sneered at much of what the Church confessed as her teaching and secretly worked to undermine it. There might have been a time in my ecclesiastical career when I was what you could call 'orthodox' in my Catholic belief, but if there was such a time, I do not remember it. I have not dispensed with any of my erroneous interpretations of the Church's teachings, nor my wilful unbelief in Her doctrines, but see, now that I am Pope, that which was once true is no longer true and my own beliefs, divorced from the timeless teachings of the Church, separated from the tradition, which depart even from the Church's Lord, are, in my person as Pope, made credible, in fact more than credible, they are to be believed by the whole Faithful.'
Yes, the Office of the Papacy can apparently turn a heretic into a sage, but it is the Office that is transformed, not the heretic. Is this what the Church believes? Or is this rather what Protestants have traditionally believed about the power and duties of the Pope? Becoming Pope, it would seem, does not so much confer upon the one who sits on the Chair of Peter a teaching charism and the solemn obligation to confirm the brethren and the Church's children in the infallible Christian doctrine handed down from Christ to His Apostles to the present day, it confers something far more awesome than this, it confers the sanctification, perhaps even the deification of an individual's private beliefs, even if these beliefs contradict Jesus Christ the Divine Founder and Lord of the Catholic Church, to whom it has hitherto been expected that each Pope serves, some well, some poorly. If a heretic becomes the Pope, the heretic can apparently rejoice not only that his own persistence in error has been changed into glorious integrity in the truth, but because he has the right and even the obligation to confirm the whole Church in his errors, which are now made holy and laudable, thus sweeping aside the entire tradition as well as the doctrines of Jesus Christ Himself.
|'I've got some second-hand doctrine to sell you at a very, very good price.'|
The tradition of the church, since the rise of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, apparently upholds that we must pay attention to someone who makes the statements of a rebellious and apostate bishop, especially when he becomes a Pope and especially because he is Pope. He cannot be challenged, he cannot be questioned, and he certainly can never lose the special charism that comes with being Successor of St Peter. He can never be a Judas who betrays his Lord for nobody knows what. He is, as Pope, always great, glorious, above reproach and you must obey or else. Without the tradition and the generous honour and respect which tradition and traditionalists give to each and every Pope, Francis would be a nobody, nothing in the Church. Nobody need listen to him without tradition. In the light of tradition, Francis is made into somebody to be believed, even when tradition itself condemns his statements outright because tradition says, 'Listen to the Pope, he speaks with God's mandate and authority.'
However, if we are to ask what is more important in the Church, tradition or the Pope, we might ask what or who confers crediblity on who or what. Is it the Pope who breathes life into Tradition, is tradition his personal plaything or is it tradition that actually gives oxygen, airtime and legitimacy itself to a Pope? Interesting, isn't it? When we have discovered the answer to this question, we shall know better who to believe in this current crisis because Francis has made this question very relevant to today's debates.
For we are told now that we must listen and adhere to Pope Francis's maxims in Amoris Laetita because he is the Pope. We are told we must listen to the Pope because of what Jesus said about the Pope and, wait for it, because of Catholic tradition. It is Catholic tradition that tells us that we must give great weight to what a Pope teaches. Yet we are told that something is blinding us to the wonderful light that is the Pope's vision for the Church which contradicts what Catholics have always believed. What is it that is blinding us? Yes! The tradition of the Church is blinding us! Of course! How foolish we have all been!
Here is, in all its paradoxical glory, the current position of the men who would have Catholics renounce what Catholics have always believed since the time of Christ and the Apostles concerning Holy Communion, adultery, sin, sacrilege and even apostasy.
You must listen to Pope Francis because that is the Catholic tradition.
Catholics have always accepted papal teaching!
Catholic tradition is standing in the way of Pope Francis's radical overhaul of the entire nature of the Catholic Church.
Or, put another way...
You must cast aside Catholic tradition and listen to Pope Francis.
You must listen to Pope Francis because the Catholic tradition tells you you simply must!
Does anyone, Stephen Walford, find the above to be something of a contradiction?
Ah, they can't call people who oppose Francis's anti-Catholic agenda 'Protestants'. Oh, how much they must wish they could. They must call them 'dissenters' because to use the word 'Protestants' as a derisive term would be offensive to the Protestants with whom TeamFrancis are trying to smooth over differences. How hilarious it all is! But in fact, the current position of men such as Stephen Walford is inherently Protestant because it propagates the Protestant myth that somehow the Pope is so powerful that not only is he is master and commander of the Church as its visible Head, but that on assuming the Office of the Papacy, we apparently believe he becomes superhuman, more God than man, more to be worshipped and venerated than Christ Himself, that he is given not just the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, but is himself Heaven's high King enfleshed on Earth, since only a man who has been conferred the dignity of not merely sonship but Lordship, of divinity, who ranks equal to God Himself could be granted the privilege of altering divinely revealed Truth. Funny, isn't it? Why haven't any Popes tried what Francis is trying on the Faithful before? It's almost like they believed in God or something, that they themselves had to render account to someone other than themselves. After all, it cannot be convincingly argued that Amoris Laetitia is merely be a response to the times because there is nothing inherently new about divorce and remarriage, is there?
Men such as Mr Walford believe that they have a 'winning line' in telling Catholics, while insulting us and our intelligence, that the Pope is head of the Church and anyone who objects to the alteration of the Catholic Faith ('which isn't being altered really, so just believe and shut up') is rigidly adhering to tradition but dissenting from the dissident Pope who was a dissident Cardinal and a dissident Archbishop and probably dissident priest. For those who wish to suspend their rational faculties, that's really the end of the debate. For those who don't, in reality, it is only the beginning of the debate which should sound a little like this...
Why should Catholics believe and give assent to a papal document and its papal interpretation that appears to support the overthrowing of Catholic morality, tradition and belief for 2,000 years?
The answer comes, 'because the Pope says so'.
Why should we listen to this Pope?
The answer comes, 'Because Catholic tradition tells you to'.
What is more important for Catholics to believe, Catholic tradition or the Pope who distances himself from it?
The answer comes, 'The Pope!'
The answer comes, 'Because Catholic tradition tells you to! Catholics have always listened to the Pope!'
But Catholics have always believed that the Body and Blood of Christ is Holy and should not be received by those in grievous mortal sin, for to do so confirms the guilty in their own condemnation. Is this not true?
The answer comes at long last...'It was true then but it is not true now, it is 2018 and you must let go of those cherished beliefs that tradition has led you to believe! Jesus wants this!'
Why? How can I be sure?
'Because the Pope says so! He is in charge 'round here. Never, ever let go of this cherished belief that tradition has led you to believe!'
But I thought you told me to dispense with Catholic tradition? So I should dispense with listening to the Pope oon this?
At last, the answer comes...'No! Oh, just shut it!'
Ah yes, we are all traditionalists now and don't you deny it Mr Walford. It is just that some of us believe the Catholic tradition safeguards us from an errant Pope and that Popes are themselves subject to the Sacred Tradition, and yes even Popes are subject to the Word of God. Not just some, or one, but all. This Pope - and you yourself - would have us abandon the entire tradition of the Church but one - a very convenient one it is for him and those he employs in his work of deception - that the Pope has authority over all Christian doctrine and practice so you'd better obey. Now we see how useful is tradition, so sneered upon and scorned by Pope Francis and those who he is getting to do the dirty work of discrediting those who stand up for Jesus Christ, who suffer slanderous attacks for doing so. Very useful! Sometimes! For some causes! Like the destruction of Christian morals!
I pray you and Pope Francis do exactly that, turnaround, and after that the Pope in particular does whatever is necessary to strengthen the brethen in the Faith taught for 2,000 years as soon as he can. In Pope Francis's case, that might mean doing the decent thing and resigning, confessing that he has misled the Faithful, and that it would really serve the Church better to have a Pope who could credibly convince others that he believed the Catholic Faith, rather than what we currently have - a Pope intent on transplanting his own 'alien' beliefs into the papacy and from the papacy into the whole Catholic Church and then calling those weird beliefs 'Catholicism'.
Willing 'theologians' have tried very hard to convince the sceptics, the doubters and the waverers on Amoris Laetitia and its official papal interpretation, but I'm afraid there is neither excuse nor precedent, loophole nor any possible justification for what the Pope is trying to do. Why? Because the same tradition that tells us to take what Popes say very seriously and to give what he says special credence, honour and deference, also tells us that the what he is currently saying in Amoris Laetitia is anathema to the Faith and encourages the destruction of the Church, the profanation of the Eucharist and the perdition of souls. To Catholics, nothing is actually meant to be more important than Jesus Christ and if His most famous rival in 2018 must be a Pope, then there is no difficulty or scandal in choosing Christ and following Him despite what the Pope tells us to believe instead. If I must choose, I will choose the entire tradition of the Church on this, and you can keep the only part of tradition that Francis wishes you to maintain, that is - loyalty to him - yes, even unto the betrayal of Christ Himself. Yes, you can have that, if that's what you want. It is your choice. It is the choice that any Catholic on the face of the Earth with a dog in this fight, that is, an immortal soul to save, may eventually have to make.
Pray for an end to this crisis and for the liberty and exaltation of Christ's Bride, that She may be freed from the tyranny of error and the dictatorship of relativism.