The Black-and-White Pope

Installation Mass

A few days ago we all had a shocking surprise as a Latin American, Jesuit archbishop emerged onto the loggia of St. Peter’s to the general joy of the Catholic world.  The rejoicing was widespread, but not universal, with some expressing misgivings.  These are clearly natural reactions, to be expected in any election, sacred or secular, and they will be sorted out as time goes on.  When St. Ignatius heard of the accession to the papacy of the virulently anti-Jesuit Cardinal Carafa in 1555, he was “shaken to his bones” and immediately retired to his chapel to pray.  The great Emperor Charles V suffered a violent attack of jaundice upon hearing the same news.  No one expected the hard-line Paul IV to emerge from the conclave, yet according to contemporary reports he was elected quickly and unanimously.  In more recent history we find similar reactions.  In 1914 Giacomo della Chiesa was elected Benedict XV, at the head of an anti-curial, anti-Pius X rebellion.  Pius X’s powerful cardinal secretary of state voiced a concern “Goodness, what a calamity!”

I tell the above stories to indicate three points.  Firstly, feelings of reserve or concern upon a papal election are very common in all periods of history and such attitudes need not be characterized as anti-papal or anti-Catholic.  Secondly, the vituperation that has poured from both right and left against Francis (not to mention mutual condemnations of each from the center), is both unuseful and uncharitable.  Finally, there exist real concerns about the future direction of the Church, and those who make such concerns known—when they are presented in well-reasoned and charitable ways—ought not to be attacked and ostracized.  Rather all should proceed in the manner of the good and holy men I listed above.  St. Ignatius, rightly suspicious of Paul IV, some time later reemerged from his chapel with a serene countenance “as if his own candidate had won.” Charles V, head of a worldwide empire, yet exhausted by the political machinations of the papal curia, soon after retired to a monastery, having abandoned all his kingdoms.  As Merry del Val came up to make his obedience, Benedict XV whispered to him “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  Merry del Val, consummate diplomat and master of courtesy replied “This is the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Flag_of_Vatican_CityI was familiar with Papa Bergoglio before the conclave, and like most others had written him off as too elderly to be electable.  It is always a delightful surprise to find out concretely that the media often are completely in the dark about what transpires behind the closed doors.  I have spent several days getting to know Francis, and was privileged to be at one of his first audiences, that of the reception for journalists as well as at his Mass of Inauguration.

Francis is clearly a very good and holy man, someone dedicated to a radical living out of the Christian message, whose expression radiates joy.  In his first speech he spoke of cleaving to the cross, and of the dangers of the devil.  He is a man who has been intimately involved with spiritual warfare.  While his speaking style is plain, it is effective.  He seems to be more of a storyteller than a formal, programmatic preacher.  While at the meeting with journalists, he seemed to break from his prepared text and regaled the assembly with the story of how he picked his papal name.  He joked that he could have chosen Adrian VII (after the short-lived reforming Dutchman Adrian VI), or that he could have gone with Clement XV, to get back at the Pope who had suppressed the Jesuits.  This provoked warm mirth throughout the audience hall.  Instead, after hearing the admonition of his fellow Latin American, Cardinal Hummes, “not to forget the poor,” Papa Bergoglio decided upon the name of Francis, one of the greatest and most beloved saints of the Church.

“It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness.”  This phrase at the audience particularly struck me and gave me hope.  Pope Francis conveyed to us the essential characteristic of self-effacement in the light of Being itself.  For Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, are metaphysical aspects of Being.  For Christians, that triad is incarnated in a Person, Jesus Christ.  Therefore whatever is True, and Good, and Beautiful must be for the building up of the Church and the human family.  As a corollary however, the three must always be together and never sundered.

The last two pontificates have been a powerful gift to the Church, picking up the pieces left by what Benedict XVI called the “Council of the Media,” or the erroneous misinterpretations of Vatican II which have caused so much damage.  If I may make a simplification, John Paul II was the pope of “Truth,” who (with Ratzinger) recalled the Church to its profession of orthodoxy, through catechesis and Catechism, through careful development and strong assertion of doctrine.  Benedict followed this by his emphasis on Beauty.  This was not an effete effort in sartorial splendor, as so many seem to dismiss it.  Rather it was a call to the Church to recognize the Beauty of Truth, embedded in human culture formed by the Word of God.  This was realized concretely in Benedict’s promotion of elevating music, both sacred and secular, of his liberation of the Extraordinary Form, of his retention of the graceful and marvelous elements of classical Anglican worship in the Ordinariate.  Even more was Benedict’s submission to his role as the successor of Peter, a man exuding humility yet conscious of his position as head of Christ’s Church on earth, which he carried out with decorum and dignity.

Now we hope Francis will complete the triad.  For while it is clear that John Paul and Benedict were very good men, they had different historical missions.  Francis can call us back to the Good, and to the imitation of Him who is the end and purpose of all desires.  It is true that too often those whose primary tasks involve Truth and Beauty can neglect the “Good.”  This can and must go beyond simply personal holiness and virtue.  It must extend to having the vision and courage to carry that goodness throughout the world, to care for the sick, the suffering, and the marginalized.  Francis seems exceedingly well equipped for that task, and I am certain the Cardinals identified that as a most desirable characteristic.

What must not be lost however is that unity of the Transcendentals that is needed for an effective witness to Christ who is Truth, and Beauty, and Goodness together.  What is Truth without Beauty or Goodness?  A trite and naked syllogism.  What is Beauty without Truth and Goodness?  An effete aestheticism with no rational grounding and no purpose.  What is Goodness without Truth and Beauty?  A bureaucratic state handing out rations, with virtue and dignity found in neither recipient nor giver.  It is a desire to improve conditions without improving people.  As Pope Francis put it, the Church would become a “pitiful NGO [Non-Governmental Organization].” (A bright indicator of the Pope’s strong belief in the Divine and unique mission of the Church).

Here is precisely where Francis has generated some misgivings.  He has a very casual and informal approach to both his office and to worship.  Informality can be a gift, a sign of high courtesy, making those around you feel welcome and at home, and preparing them to receive your message.  Francis’ interactions with the faithful have made this evident, and his magnetism has proven stunning.  Last Sunday I could not even get into the square for the Angelus; official records put the crowds at over 300,000.  There is a problem however when that informality and personality is injected into one’s office and particularly into the liturgy.  The Office of the Papacy endures and has endured, true humility recognizes that union with the past and cares for it with great solicitude.  Francis’ quote above, while directed to journalists, is also applicable to the liturgy.  The liturgy must be an effacement of self, particularly for the man who stands at the altar in the person of Christ.  The priest’s personality must be subordinated to the communication of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty which can and must characterize every liturgical celebration for it to bear real fruit in the Church.

Too many have equated these misgivings with desires for “bling and lace.”  This is to mischaracterize such issues completely.  There are many who are convinced—with good reason—that in order to safeguard Catholic culture, identity, and orthodoxy, we must have orthopraxis.  They are two sides of the same coin, as our Eastern Catholic brethren know so well.  Those small things, those gestures, those vestments, those postures are irreducibly critical for the creation and maintenance of a Catholic society and ethos.  We are an incarnational people, and we are a traditional people; the recipients of a vast inheritance in culture and civilization.  One should not blithely accept Fr. Congar’s exceptionally damaging dichotomy between “Tradition” and “traditions” that has been drummed into our heads.  For it is those despised “traditions” which held, protected, and undergirded the “Tradition” through the centuries.

To give an example, in the sole remaining record of a sermon by St. Peter Martyr, O.P. (one of the greatest preachers of the Middle Ages), he took an unexpected subject.  He chose to meditate on the externals of the religious life, its costumes and ceremonies.  One ought not to scorn these, he said, for they were the humble stones which held together the massive edifice of the Church.  Without them its walls would crumble.  St. Francis too was aware of this, and omitted nothing which would add to the splendor of the Divine Liturgy.  Indeed St. Francis reserves his harshest words not for those who oppress the poor or corrupt the environment, but for those who refuse to take proper care of the Eucharist and the paraments that surround Its worship.

“Now let us begin to do good, since up to now we have done little or nothing.”  These were some of St. Francis’ last words and they apply to us today.  The world will recognize a Church that cares for the marginalized, and promotes their dignity.  It will recognize a Church that preserves the beauty and culture of centuries because it represents the best of what it means to be human.  It will also recognize one that ceaselessly proclaims the truth about God, the world, and the human person.  We must never break apart that sacred triad.  We must never set the poor against the liturgy, or doctrine against social justice.  The Catholic Church is the custodian of the riches of human civilization for the world, in her art, literature, theology, philosophy, liturgy, architecture, her intellectual work.  These are the inheritance of the poor, the only inheritance they have ever had.  The irony is this: it is the richest inheritance of all.  We must not squander it in their name.

Editor’s note: The photo above of Pope Francis was take during his installation Mass Tuesday.

Donald S. Prudlo

By

Donald S. Prudlo is Associate Professor of Ancient and Medieval History at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He is also Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. His specialty is saints and sainthood in the Christian tradition, and he is the author of The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (Ashgate, 2008) and has recently edited The Origin, Development, and Refinement of Medieval Religious Mendicancies (Brill, 2011).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    March 20th: a beautiful article…I am very grateful for our Pope Francis and I believe he will bring us to the beauty of simplicity … I also believe that Religious men and women should wear Habits as a witness to Christ and to their founder…we need such witness in our secularized overly sexualized anti-life culture; however, I honestly do not understand how we have come from Jesus the poor and humble and simple Carpenter to Cardinals in golden miters and golden vestments…I love the Church with all my heart and have tried to serve her and her people in Haiti and in India with Mother Teresa…but, while I believe in a beautiful liturgy – I don’t understand the title “Prince of the Church” and princely, even kingly vestments…I know the Church had to stand on an even keel with Emperors and Kings…but Jesus and the Apostles, Our Lady and even St. Francis did so through their holiness of life and of being…I simply cannot see Jesus wearing such splendor or having people kiss expensive rings while the poor go hungry…I do not mean to be disrespectful but I honestly am disheartened by this array of wealth and splendor…can you help me to understand, please. Thanks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Catherine-Alexander/1495456521 Catherine Alexander

      Re “princes of the Church”: Centuries ago, princes who were not heirs to the throne were often encouraged to provide service to the Church, based on their education, powerful and protective political ties, etc. In a world where education and leadership skills were found primarily among nobles, royalty, and military leaders, there was logic to this. Also, the rank and skill set of a cardinal was similar to that of a prince. It’s a term that has probably outlived its usefulness and should be discarded.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Catherine-Alexander/1495456521 Catherine Alexander

      I agree with you up to a point, Sam. I think we must make a careful distinction between what is done for the glory of God and what is done for the glory of ourselves, and I think one way to do that is to greatly restrict “kingly vestments” to the celebration of the Mass. It should be more clear that the “array of wealth and splendor” is for the glory of God, and not used at the expense of the poor.

      I do think that one of the reasons so many people around the world were fascinated by recent events in the Church, especially the Conclave, was the beauty of our ancient rituals. It’s also helpful for us to be periodically reminded of the history and symbolism all these things have — the ring, the red shoes, the tall hats, etc. None of them are without meaning. The use of this kind of beauty and ritual has a history that goes all the way back to the Old Testament, with the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, and the use of priestly vestments by the Israelites. So there is a precedent, and the purpose to remind us of the majesty of God, and the need to give Him the best we have.

  • Joe DeCarlo

    He might be a South American, but he is really an Italian.

    • Gabriella

      He is Peter! he is our representative of Jesus Christ upon this planet – no matter what his name, his background, or country he comes from, does it? Jesus was a Jew but we do not think of Him that way, He is our Savior!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-R-Schuh/100001894380487 John R Schuh

      he is an Argentine. He speaks Latin with a Spanish accent.

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  • David DeCleene

    Dr. Prudlo’s incisive analysis of the incipient papacy of Francis ranks first among the articles I have read. In a few hundred words, he accomplishes several key objectives that have needed clarification: 1) He places criticism of selection in a historical perspective; 2) He gives us a most helpful template (Truth, Beauty, Goodness) through which we can assess the major strengths of our recent popes; 3) Through this template, he enables us to take heed of the misgivings that Catholics may have over liturgical expression.

    Thanks much, Dr., for the sparkling clarity!

  • pedroerik

    Fantastic article.

    I felt that you are criticizing the pope, or at least try to reassure to yourself and us that Pope Francis will keep the Beauty.

    I pary for that. Since March 13 I miss more Benedict XVI, may God have mercy on me.

  • Joshua Hernandez

    Great post Mr. Prudlo. I’m reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote:
    “…the very fact that pompous is now used only in bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of ‘solemnity’. To recover it you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in.”

    “Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a wide-spread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar’s head at a Christmas feast – all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age
    which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.”
    “…The desire for simplicity is a late and sophisticated one. We moderns may like dances which are hardly distinguishable from walking and poetry which sounds as if it might be uttered ex tempore. Our ancestors did not. They liked a dance which was a dance, and fine clothes which no one could mistake for working clothes, and feasts that no one could mistake for ordinary dinners, and poetry that unblushingly proclaimed itself to be poetry. …Epic diction, Christmas fare, and the liturgy, are all examples of ritual – that is, of something set deliberately apart from daily usage, but wholly familiar within its own sphere. …Those who dislike ritual in general – ritual in any and every department of life – may be asked most earnestly to reconsider the question. It is a pattern imposed on the mere flux of our feelings by reason and will, which renders pleasures less fugitive and griefs more endurable, which hands over to the power of wise custom the task (to which the individual and his moods are so inadequate) of being festive or sober, gay or reverent, when we choose to be, and not at the bidding of chance”

    -C.S. Lewis, Preface to Paradise Lost

    • Theresa

      Thank you for the fine comment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-R-Schuh/100001894380487 John R Schuh

      There is nothing more vain than the yahoo who draws attention to himself as me makes fun of the pompous. They are only trying to do the right thing

  • Theresa

    Thank you for the fine article.

    I must say on the outset that I will be sad and feel like something is missing if Pope Francis does not wear burgundy-red shoes. They don’t have to be expensive ones, but it’s part of Papa — just like the white robes!

    As a child of the 60’s and 70’s, I have been exposed to countless examples of shallow/trite liturgical music, ugly architecture, vestments that look like they belong on a Birkenstock-shod, denim-jumpered “Church Lady”, ad nauseum… Having seen so much that is purposely plain – I yearn for elegance and beauty. (Note: not to be confused with fussy/frilly excess like one sees on Infant of Prague statues).

    Only recently did I discover Palestrina and Tallis – now I can’t get enough. The first time I participated in a solemn high Mass, it was for All Souls. The music was Mozart’s Requiem and the Novus Ordo was offered in Latin. I cried all through the Mass — I didn’t know that anything could be so heart-rendingly beautiful.

    ~~Transcendent beauty breaks the heart and inclines us to the GOOD – it makes us want to be better people ~~

    We’ve languished for decades in a sensory wasteland and need to be liberated. Perhaps surrounded by the sublime our laity will begin to think twice before coming to church dressed like they’ve just been to the garbage dump or are on the way to a wet T-shirt contest.

    The Church is the only “rich” thing that truly poor people DO enjoy and claim as their own. They aren’t welcome in Bill Gates’ or Donald Trump’s mansions. But as Catholics, the stained glass windows and marble columns are ours – it’s our Church – and we are sons and daughters of the King eternal.

    Imagine the in-taken breath and the awe of one basking in the beauty of the National Basilica or St. Peter’s (as opposed to that visual excrescence, the Los Angeles Cathedral — which cost MILLIONS of dollars — now, that truly is a waste).

    Sublime architecture, rich vestments, beautiful music, add splendor to the inherent beauty of the Mass and give us a glimpse of what — with God’s mercy and grace — we may attain one day.

    • tony

      Lex orandi,lex credendi. Many of the doctrinal aberrations and moral apostasies of the past are at least partly attributable, I believe, to the purposeful denigration and secularizing of the liturgy. Truth is communicated through beauty; ugliness (whether musically, linguistically, or behaviorally) begets falsehood. Put quite simply, there is no legitimate rationale for replacing chant and polyphony with pabulum, for replacing dignity with offensiveness, for replacing sublimity with egotism. May the liturgical reform championed by the Pope Emeritus be strengthened by Pope Francis.

      • PhilESieve

        Still, the bad ones need removing or it’s new wine in old wine skins. I still see the old silly familiarities of priests during the liturgy and clapping for so and so. We need a massive Pius X-style sweeping for the sake of souls.

    • Dan

      Where was it that the a high Novus Ordo Mass was offered in Latin with Mozart’s Requiem? I’d travel pretty far to attend a Mass like that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-R-Schuh/100001894380487 John R Schuh

      I was listening today to a Bach Concerto played by that brilliant violin Hilary Hahn. I was carried up to the Third Heaven almost. It makes you forget yourself. There is such beauty available, and we do not use it.

  • Tom

    We also know two pro-abortion “Catholics”…Pelosi and Biden…took communion despite their allegiance to the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies. The spinelessness of the Church is obvious to all, now.

    • Theresa

      I heard that is one of the reasons that Pope Francis may have chosen not to distribute Holy Communion at his installation Mass. God willing, the days of pro-abort politicians presenting themselves for communion will now be over.

      • Paul

        I wonder why they are invited.

        Is geopolitics still such an extraordinary priority? I’m still overwhelmed at the thought of those Iberian and South American ‘caudillos’, the worst tyrants in the world, and mostly Catholic, in seats of honour at past papal inaugurations.

        Do the church authorities not realise that they are betraying the politicians concerned It’s not only the poor who have been betrayed by her, but the very oppressors, themselves.

        Nobody has mentioned it – all we hear is of Communism, initially another phenomenon born of desperation – but was it not under John Paul II’s pontificate that the demonic neoliberal politics of the Argentinian junta, Pinochet et al were allowed to thrive, without being fiercely and ceaselessly lambasted by the him? It would surely have made things a lot easier for the pastors in the field, had he done so. If Francis had, it might have had some effect, but I doubt it. But the the pope regnant could have made a difference, imo.

        As it was, it was merely an extension of the catholic culture predating even WWII, condoning and, alas, effectively colluding with the ‘beasts of the earth’ of the Psalms. I am not an apologist of Pius XII, and find that exercise, bizarre. However, he was nevertheless, in that sense, himself, merely a victim of the abominable culture of, yes, ‘the traditions of men’, which had proliferated to such deadly effect under the Tridentine dispensation. Antisemitism was just one outrage.

        I’m not sure it would be possible to exaggerate the vehemence of Christ’s invective at that phenomenon in the Synagogue of his day, but I think it is axiomatic, is it not that, since more was given to us, our derelictions and distortions would inevitably have become even more lamentable. One might have hoped that the anguish Christ suffered,as expressed in his Lament over Jerusalem might have served to deter our iteration of those lamentable barriers to the people’s faith, but the church had, after all been taken over by robber barons, in earlier centuries, still in some degree attested to in the garb of the cardinals, which make the robes of the Pharisees, with their deep hems and tassels, seem almost penitential; then there are the aristocratic titles.

        Yes, to me the Mass is so formal that I feel it should resemble an army parade more than a chummy family gathering; even though I deplore the throne-room mentality and the ethos of clericalism, generally. I once was checked by the Holy Spirit, when, before Mass, I was about to pat someone in the pew in front of me who was coughing, saying, ‘Cough up chicken!’.

        • Paul

          Ironically, the older I get, the more I’ve come to enjoy the crimson spectacle! But that doesn’t make it right. And, incidentally, I’m very inclined to doubt that, in il Poverello’s day, he and his order would have worn exotic-looking robes to distinguish themselves; kind of self-defeating.

          • Paul

            I read a few months ago that a bishop replied to an American lady, who was expressing her feelings of wonder and admiration at all the beautiful architecture, works of art, etc in Rome, that, yes, indeed, that was so, but losing Northern Europe was a heavy price to pay!!!!

            • Clare Krishan

              Chuckle!

        • Clare Krishan

          re:“I wonder why they are invited.” Fr. Lombardi stated that no one is invited, an announcement of the event is published in one of the diplomatic circulars (sent around the world practically daily I assume). Who shows up on the day and where they get to sit is subject to the parties communicating their intentions via their national diplomatic channels. Robert Mugabe was in attendance again did anyone notice? The Vatican doesn’t employ bouncers to keep him away you know, his spiritual welfare is the vocation of a local spiritual director (if he has one) or the local ordinary (the Bishop of his home diocese) if he’s confident enough to pursue the available canonical proscriptions (first enter into a dialog, then correct if necessary in private as often as necessary until conversion takes root, if all else fails correct in public – that’s why most priest who don’t know the state of their soul are not duty bound to make a personal issue of it at the altar. since that’s not the proper place for a public correction nor the proper authority).

          We had this very issue with the funeral priest from the Moscow diocese remember? Fr. Guarnizo you’ll be pleased to know seems to have found a new perch to crow his mean-spirited version of the Gospel to the rooftops, see here
          http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=2489

          I’m sure Irish Catholics love him as much as the faithful folks here. Lovely supper time conversation, eh? Who’s got the baddest journalists / politicos / floozies in the world?

          Aren’t you glad he wasn’t anywhere near the piazza or the dignitaries? Who knows what may have transpired, eh?
          An international incident perhaps?
          Over who loves Jesus the most?

          When Jesus is only interested in how many lost sheep know how much he loves them.,… which is the task he left us in charge of. Each member of the Church not just the loud-n-vocal ones or the crazy obsessive-compulsive ones. Each. of. Us.

          • Clare Krishan

            http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com/2013/03/interview-with-father-marcel-guarnizo.html
            the arrogance of the man is breathtaking…
            “its difficult for them to understand” (..visual sneer)
            “we kind of smile” (..repeats visual sneer)
            “less central power … more local power … I think that’s not the best idea – local conferences not as reliable as Vatican curia” (..! Subsidiarity was not on his vocabulary test at Seminary, obviously)
            “My position has always been that if we loose economic freedoms then we are going to lose political and cultural freedoms (…! No mention of our first freedom RELIGIOUS freedom, and then how about our second, RIGHT TO LIFE… crickets…)
            Is this cleric an accredited Vatican journalist or freelancer? His personal opinion should have no bearing on the facts of the news he is charged to report, unvarnished and unbiased (and preferably charitable holy way if he can fit that in between all his glee at having his 5 minutes of fame)

            Its not about what “he feels” (Thomism 101: your feelings aren’t reliable, rely on intellect and logic in forming intent)

    • Joe DeCarlo

      You are correct, Tom. The pope could have made a statement by handing out communion and refusing to give it to Pelosi and Biden. I’m very disappointed.

    • Gabriella

      Their judgement will come from the Father. Jesus did not judge the sinful woman, but told her to go and sin no more. Yes, these people do not have the informed conscience, but that is no excuse. Pope might not have known who they were as private people? – if he, in fact, gave them the Holy Communion!

  • Deacon Sean Smith

    A fairly balanced article, right up to the implication that the Holy Father does not exhibit orthopraxis. Given much of the tenor of the comments, including even on this blogpost, e.g., the red shoes, to even imply a lack of “right practice” seems a huge overstatement. Not following some of the small-t traditions, fair enough. But to even imply being guilty of other than “right practice” seems way out of line!

  • Dan

    A fine article. I must admit, however, that I am very nervous about Pope Francis. I am concerned about what impact he may have on the liturgy — just when the reform of the reform seems to be gaining some traction — and I am also worried about how vociferously he will stand up for marriage and against abortion and contraception.

    • Joe DeCarlo

      Dan, the pope could had stood up for abortion by refusing communion to the pro-abortionists, Pelosi and Biden.

      • Susan Quinn

        How, exactly? He gave communion to only a few clerics. The many poor priests who acted as Eucharistic ministers were supposed to recognize every pro-abort politician who had the nerve to present themselves? I’ve also read that there was not a separate minister just for delegates representing other countries – that they had to get in the same lines as everyone else, for the very reason that you do not then face people stepping over the Jews, Muslims, etc.

      • The forge

        So you also mean that Benedict XVI did not stand against abortion, since Pelosi and Kerry also received communion at the Pope’s Mass when he visited the US in 2008

    • The forge

      And how are you planning to respond? After all it is the job of the laity to carry out the work, no? The Pope will not come here to change the laws in the US. It is not his role. It is the job of the laity to get organized and spread the message, isn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alejandro.mayer.5 Alejandro Mayer

    I think the plainer style of Pope Francisco is more appealing to people of this age, which is set in the testimonies more than in the intelligentsia. Regarding his doctrine is quoted as an example that devotee of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

  • Susan Quinn

    Thank you. The following is a beautiful rephrasing of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s exact same point in the first volume of “The Glory of the Lord” – the best summary I have ever seen:

    “What must not be lost however is that unity of the Transcendentals that
    is needed for an effective witness to Christ who is Truth, and Beauty,
    and Goodness together. What is Truth without Beauty or Goodness? A
    trite and naked syllogism. What is Beauty without Truth and Goodness?
    An effete aestheticism with no rational grounding and no purpose. What
    is Goodness without Truth and Beauty? A bureaucratic state handing out
    rations, with virtue and dignity found in neither recipient nor giver.
    It is a desire to improve conditions without improving people. As Pope
    Francis put it, the Church would become a “pitiful NGO [Non-Governmental
    Organization].” (A bright indicator of the Pope’s strong belief in the
    Divine and unique mission of the Church).”

    • Clare Krishan

      Agree love the paraphrasing of Balthasar , thx!

  • Bill Russell

    1 )The Jesuits were suppressed by Clement XIV, not Clement XV who existed only as an eccentric anti-pope.

    .

    2) In Buenos Aires, Archbishop Brogoglio told the Anglican archbishop Venables, that he thought the Anglican Ordinariate was ‘unnecessary.” Without the support that Benedict XV gave the Ordinariate, it would not survive long.

    • Marc L

      Regarding #1, you didn’t get the joke.

    • Clare Krishan

      Was he perhaps speaking in relation of the questionable numbers of Spanish-speaking Protestants (attending Anglican services in Spanish) in Argentina who yet believe in the Real Presence and for some peculiar reason would perhaps want to pray using the Book of Common Prayer in English (er duh???)?

      That might be tricky, the nearest English-speaking Catholic priest is stationed on the Falkland Islands:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21785929

  • Bill Russell

    typo: I of course meant Benedict XVI

  • Father Michael King

    What a terrific and thoughtful post. Thank you Dr. Prudio.

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  • JD

    This whole article was rather decent except for this part: “The last two pontificates have been a powerful gift to the Church,
    picking up the pieces left by what Benedict XVI called the “Council of
    the Media,” or the erroneous misinterpretations of Vatican II which have
    caused so much damage. If I may make a simplification, John Paul II
    was the pope of “Truth,” who (with Ratzinger) recalled the Church to its
    profession of orthodoxy, through catechesis and Catechism, through
    careful development and strong assertion of doctrine.”

    What? Need I remind you of Assisi I, Assisi II and Assisi III? Need I remind you of the kissing of the Koran? The visits to the Synagogues? The simultaneous blessings with heretics and schismatics? Need I remind you of the altar girls? Need I remind you of JPII’s private belief in Universal Salvation? Need I remind you of the rushed (and false) beatification of JPII and the pending beatification of one of the worst popes in our most blessed history, Paul VI? Need I remind you of the constant re-enforcement of the concept of “The Church Sacrament” (as opposed to the Church Militant)? Need I remind you of Benedict placing a known heretic as head of the CDF? There are countless of other things I could remind you of that prove that the last to pontificates did anything but pick up pieces…they perpetuated the smoke of Satan!

    And you actually believe Pope Em. Benedict when he points his finger at the media? Wow. Think of the consequences of his concept here. So if its the “Council of the Media”…then what the hell is the 1983 Code of Canon Law and current Catechism of the Catholic Church (including the YouCat) based off of exactly? Ought we not reform these two major things, currently wreaking havoc within the Church, if its based off of the media!? So these two Popes acted faithfully according to the Council of the Media (rather than the REAL Vatican II) because, I can tell you, they certainly failed to fully oppose this invisible Council of his? They are claimed as great intellectuals, psudeo-Doctors of the Church, but they fell pray to the Council of the Media? You ought to read this blog post concerning this ridiculous theory: http://unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/historia-ecclesiae/79-history/297-theory-of-the-hijacked-council.html

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  • Clare Krishan

    Indeed “Pius X’s powerful cardinal secretary of state” that would be British-born aristocrat Merry del Val, no? He of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litany_of_Humility renown?
    Love it!

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  • CatholicDad

    So taking care of the Eucharist means allowing public heretics and grave persistent mortal sinners like Biden and Pelosi to receive it in public? I don’t call that taking care of the Eucharist; I call that scandal on the grandest scale. Sorry to say.

  • roughplacesplain

    Small point, but that photo of Pope Francis was definitely not from his installation Mass, where he wore the pallium. I believe the photo is from the Mass with the cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel the day after the election.

  • Dee Franer

    What an absolutely beautify well-written article. I thank you so much. I very much needed to read this. God bless you!

    • Dee Franer

      oops – “beautifully”

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