A Papal Clarification

A recent exchange on another’s Facebook page made me think. The exchange, centring on an article on the Patheos site, saw both the author and the some commenters admonishing those who took umbrage at the recent papal pronouncements on the Lord’s Prayer (and others), to quite whingeing and just get on with being good Catholics.

Of course, we should always be good Catholics, but must we really be content to sit in silence in the face of the most alarming papal phenomena for a long time?

Pope Francis is not evil. He is the pope. His papal court is the most disedifying in recent history. But that is another story. Our purpose at present is the person of the pope. Continue reading “A Papal Clarification”

Paternostergate

Yet again the pope has captured the headlines of the mainstream secular press, both in the UK and the USA, as elsewhere. The coverage is generally laudatory, with +Francis presented as courageously facing sacred cows that have had their day, or never should have had a day at all. The issue this time, as you know, is the Lord’s Prayer. Pope Francis feels that “lead us not into temptation” is “not a good translation”. A father does not “push” his child into temptation, but only Satan leads into temptation, and we can fall or not. Well, that’s his case in a nutshell.

Others, Christopher Altieri for example, are addressing this more comprehensively than I can. Some are more shrill than others. The points they raise are salient in the main.

There are just two things I would dare to note.

The first is that, Continue reading “Paternostergate”

L’Affaire Weinandy: A Watershed?

In yesterday’s post the subject was Fr Thomas Weinandy OFMCap’s letter to Pope Francis of 31 July, seemingly still unanswered; the release of this letter has been afforded a reception which is gaining momentum. This is for a very good reason: one who was approved by the establishment has broken ranks. Not just anyone, but an eminent theologian who had been head of the US bishops’ own doctrinal commission. One does not need to be Einstein to see in the circumstances surrounding Fr Weinandy’s resignation as theological consultant to the US bishops that the bishops’ conference has thrown him under a bus.

Prepare to see many establishment figures rushing to distance themselves from him. It is an understandable and otherwise laudable Catholic instinct that leads some to see any opposition to a pope as tantamount to blasphemy. Yet some situations are not so clear cut. This is why we must read Fr Weinandy’s letter very carefully; he is no Luther and far more a Newman.

There are two posts you might want to read for an idea of the reaction to Fr Weinandy and some of the points being raised, some of high significance and some not. Continue reading “L’Affaire Weinandy: A Watershed?”

Here I stand; I can do no other.

Whether or not Martin Luther actually uttered the words attributed to him and found in the title of this post, it certainly had become the principal rallying cry for the claims of conscience, equalled only by (the oft-decontextualized use of) Newman’s “I shall drink to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards”. Both are seen within the context of a challenge to the papacy, be it the brazen hubris of Luther or Newman’s more subtle and nuanced disquiet at the proclamation of papal infallibility at Vatican I.

Both might be seen as applicable to the case of Fr Thomas Weinandy OFMCap and his recently-released letter to Pope Francis regarding the current crisis of authority in the Church. In the preceding link one will find also Fr Weinandy’s explanatory note, which is in many ways perhaps even more arresting than the letter itself. It is important to note that Fr Weinandy is no fringe-dwelling extremist nor some rare and exotic flower in the vineyard of the Lord. He is as mainstream, in the best possible way, a theologian as one can get. Widely-read by students (including myself), 12 years teaching in Oxford and, for some of that time, as chairman of the theology faculty, former head of the US bishops’ doctrine commission. But this is barely to touch upon his eminence as a theologian. Continue reading “Here I stand; I can do no other.”

A Prophet for Today

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Jeremiah weeps over Jerusalem (Horace Vernet, 1844)

Yesterday at Matins the reading was taken from chapter 23 of the book of the prophet Jeremiah. As we read it in 2017 it seems very apposite: Continue reading “A Prophet for Today”

The Correctio Filialis: A Tangential Observation

There is quite the barely-contained frenzy surrounding the Correctio filialis issued above the signatures of a number of clergy and laity, many of them eminent men and women of letters and learning. Soon after there was an invitation to those clergy and laity who had not been invited previously to sign the document to add their names to it. Looking at it today I see that there are now 233 signatories.

Yet is no less remarkable a document for who has not signed it. For some, no doubt, there is that fear that has been articulated by Fr Ray Blake and, more stridently, by Fr John Hunwicke, a fear of retaliatory ecclesiastical bullying. Fr Blake also raised the impression that might be conveyed by such popular initiatives, namely that their concerns belong only to those who have signed, whereas they are shared by many more. In other words, the correctio carries with it the danger of a sort of self-marginalisation. Which is why the loopier among conciliarista and neo-papalist theologians, such as Massimo Faggioli, can come out with such absurdities as this series of tweets (among the dizzingly vast stream he puts out—is this all he does? can theology be adequately pursued by 140-character tweets?): Continue reading “The Correctio Filialis: A Tangential Observation”

Motu proprio “Magnum Principium”—a translation

Herewith my hasty and rough translation of the pope’s new motu proprio, Magnum Principium. Comments to follow in due course.


The great principle, confirmed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, according to which liturgical prayer, as adapted to their comprehension, should be understood by the people, required the grave duty be entrusted to the Bishops for introducing the vernacular into the liturgy, and to prepare and approve the [vernacular] versions of liturgical books. Continue reading “Motu proprio “Magnum Principium”—a translation”

The Magisterium and Nostalgia: Pope Francis on Liturgy

It had not been in mind to comment on the latest chapter of papagate, in which Pope Francis has declared, we are told, that the liturgical reform is irreversible. Many commentators have weighed on the papal address, not least Frs Z and Hunwicke, Christopher Altieri at Catholic World Report and Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture. Though they share the same general interpretation of the papal speech they are not identical in their approach to liturgy; so reading them together makes for a balanced orthodox approach to the situation. (Feel free to add others you have found in the comments’ section below.)

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However I followed one link to the infamous Pray Tell blog, and a commentary by Fr Anthony Ruff OSB of that monastic bastion of modernism modernity, Collegeville. He approached the papal address in a rather canny way, by examining its sources. He gives a running score of the sources cited in both the text proper and its footnotes. His tally is tabulated thus: Continue reading “The Magisterium and Nostalgia: Pope Francis on Liturgy”

Cardinals’ Dubia and Papal Silence: The Silver Lining

**NB Some further thoughts can be found here.**

The five questions, or dubia, submitted by Cardinals Caffarra, Burke, Meisner and Brandmüller to Pope Francis regarding his Apostolic Exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia, have been mentioned here before. Many commentators have expressed frustration that the pope has yet to answer them. Plain rude, some say. Probably quite a few liberals also would like Pope Francis to answer the dubia, and make the de facto practice in many places de iure: that divorcees who have entered into a subsequent civil remarriage might be allowed to receive Holy Communion.

So far the pope has been silent, and his defenders—not a few of them self-appointed and self-serving—have taken it upon themselves to attack i quattro cardinali, and even to advocate what it is said the pope thinks but has never quite said: that civilly-remarried divorcees should receive Holy Communion, as part of the Church’s “accompaniment” of them. There is a supremely strong case that the Chief Shepherd of the Flock should answer the dubia and clarify once and for all the Church’s teaching. Continue reading “Cardinals’ Dubia and Papal Silence: The Silver Lining”

Married Priests: The Deeper Issue

A recent interview given by Pope Francis to the German publication Die Zeit has caused alarm once more, stirring the ashes of settled controversies and demonstrating how ineffective the press interview actually is as a medium of papal communication. A quick example suffices. Here is the brief but highlighted take that The Week‘s mobile app took on the interview:

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Continue reading “Married Priests: The Deeper Issue”