Are you ready for Pope Francis’ canonization?

Because you know it’s going to happen.  It’s getting to be pretty hard for recent popes not to be canonized.  They’ve even slated Pope John XXIII, the worst pope in the Church’s entire history, for sainthood.  If they can do it for Good Pope John, how can they not do it for Good Pope Francis?  After all, Pope Francis is perfectly replicating Pope John’s institution-smashing recklessness (Vatican II / the Extraordinary Synod) and deliberate downplaying of opposition to the most militant evil of the day (communism / sodomy) thus winning great personal popularity in exchange for the jeopardy of souls.  Francis is practically a Roncalli clone.

While we’re on that topic I honestly don’t understand why traditionalists get so much more worked up over the canonization of John Paul II.  It’s not that I agree with everything JPII ever did, but I’ve never doubted that he was fundamentally on the Catholic side against modernity.  He inherited an impossible situation, and he had to choose his battles.  Overall, I think he chose them wisely and fought them well.  Pope John inherited a strong, healthy church and murdered it.  Even Pope Paul VI, when he faced his judgment before God, had one glorious moment of courage to his credit.  When some day, God willing, the Second Vatican Council is forgotten, Humanae Vitae will still stand out as one of the glories of papal history.  (And, yes, they’re pushing for Paul’s canonization too.  I’m as ultramontanist as the next Catholic, but even for me this is becoming unseemly.)

Yes, I realize that one canonizes the man, not his policies, and it’s possible that Pope John was very holy and very stupid.  However, for a public figure like a pope, the policies are the main thing he’s known for.  Declaring someone a saint doesn’t just declare that this person is in heaven; it holds him up as an example.  If a pope does a bad job, and we don’t want him to be held up as an example of how the Church should be run, there’s nothing wrong with letting him enjoy the fruits of his holiness without official recognition.  It’s not like he’ll be kicked out of heaven.

Why do I bring this up?  Because it adds a new layer to that burden we reactionaries always feel, the weight of our descendent’s hatred.  Not for us is the comfort of imagining that history will vindicate us, that even if we fail, school children in the distant future will someday be taught that our cause was just.  We’ve always known that secular culture despises us now and will despise us more with each generation.  I suspect that even Catholic history in the future will condemn us.  The traditionalists criticized by Francis will be remembered in Catholic history like the Integralists are in the post-VII Church, as fools and bigots that the heroes had to overcome.  That, like yesterday’s Integralists, today’s traditionalists are actually right won’t mean anything to anyone, except God.

12 Responses

  1. “Pope John inherited a strong, healthy church and murdered it.”

    I find that hard to accept. In 1904, we have Maurice Blondel writing, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.”

    Responding to a national survey in 1907, Blondel articulated his sense of the “present crisis”: “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth “

    In a letter to Auguste Valensin, he explains, “First, the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    Over the next half-century, we hear much the same from the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Maréchal, Lubac and Daniélou, among others

    Hardly the picture of a “strong, healthy church.”

  2. I suspect that even Catholic history in the future will condemn us. The traditionalists criticized by Francis will be remembered in Catholic history like the Integralists are in the post-VII Church, as fools and bigots that the heroes had to overcome. That, like yesterday’s Integralists, today’s traditionalists are actually right won’t mean anything to anyone, except God.

    And what a privilege that is; like tasting the caress of one of the thorns in His crown.

  3. I think Bonald may have been a little hyperbolic with his “murdered” comment above. Nevertheless, by every empirical measure I have seen (vocations, adult conversions, Mass attendance, schools, …), the Church was vastly better off prior to Vatican II than it ever has been since.

    I see this fairly frequently, and not only in the Catholic context. Point out that a particular institution is in advanced decline, or that a particular problem has gotten much worse since Policy X was enacted, and people will jump to inform you that things weren’t perfect beforehand either. Well yeah, thanks, but I knew that already. Doesn’t mean we should throw our hands in the air and just accept whatever comes along.

    I don’t quite get what Blondel is saying in the quoted passages, but all you’ve demonstrated here is that someone was dissatisfied with the Church in 1904, against the weight of evidence on the other side. But there are kvetchers in every age and every circumstance, because (given original sin) things could always be better than they are.

  4. Well, Pope Benedict will probably not be canonized, because he was a mean old traditionalist who said that people with deeply rooted and instrinsically disordered desires should probably not be priests.

  5. I meant “intrinsically,” of course. Sorry for the typo.

  6. Cardinal Henri de Lubac was to say of Blondel, “Latin theology’s return to a more authentic tradition has taken place–not without some jolts, of course–in the course of the last century. We must admit that the main impulse for this return came from a philosopher, Maurice Blondel. His thinking was not primarily exercised in the areas proper to the professional theologians, nor did it base itself on a renewed history of tradition. Still, he is the one who launched the decisive attack on the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought.”

    “Destroying Christian thought” – This is the judgment of one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century.

  7. For me, it’ll be a sad day when Francis tries to canonize John Paul II, because I believe JPII was a shockingly modernist-leaning pope in St. Pius X’s sense of the word “modernism,” the heresy he condemned in Pascendi dominici gregis. I assume that John Paul’s intentions were above reproach. But I think his Assisi meetings implied another heresy, religious indifferentism, in both 1986 and 2002. Since Bl. Pius IX condemned it infallibly in his Syllabus of Errors, it’s hard to doubt that those meetings implied that heresy when Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and even pagans prayed together at them. To qualify for canonized sainthood, a candidate needs to have each virtue to a heroic degree, so it’s pretty clear to me that JPII wasn’t heroically prudent. Were I a pope, I wouldn’t canonize any other one who has ruled the Church so far after Vatican II. In fact, I’m hoping and praying that a pontiff will canonize my hero Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the 20th-century St. Athanasius.

  8. “Since Bl. Pius IX condemned it infallibly in his Syllabus of Errors…”

    As Bl John Henry Newman pointed out, the Syllabus of Errors is not infallible. “There is not a word in it of the Pope’s own writing; there is nothing in it at all but the Erroneous Propositions themselves—that is, except the heading ‘A Syllabus, containing the principal Errors of our times, which are noted in the Consistorial Allocutions, in the Encyclicals, and in other Apostolical Letters of our most Holy Lord, Pope Pius IX.’” There is one other addition—viz., after each Error a reference is given to the Allocution, Encyclical, or other document in which it is proscribed… I do not speak as if I had any difficulty in recognizing and condemning the Errors which it catalogues, did the Pope himself bid me; but he has not as yet done so, and he cannot delegate his Magisterium to another. I wish with St. Jerome to “speak with the Successor of the Fisherman and the Disciple of the Cross.” I assent to that which the Pope propounds in faith and morals, but it must be he speaking officially, personally, and immediately, and not any one else, who has a hold over me.”

    Let us hear no more of an “infallible” Syllabus of Errors

  9. This quotation come from the Catholic Encyclopedia you’ll find at (http://newadvent.org) in the article about the Syllabus. Maybe I was wrong when I said the Syllabus was infallible.

    Binding power

    The binding power of the Syllabus of Pius IX is differently explained by Catholic theologians. All are of the opinion that many of the propositions are condemned if not in the Syllabus, then certainly in other final decisions of the infallible teaching authority of the Church, for instance in the Encyclical “Quanta Cura”. There is no agreement, however, on the question whether each thesis condemned in the Syllabus is infallibly false, merely because it is condemned in the Syllabus. Many theologians are of the opinion that to the Syllabus as such an infallible teaching authority is to be ascribed, whether due to an ex-cathedra decision by the pope or to the subsequent acceptance by the Church. Others question this. So long as Rome has not decided the question, everyone is free to follow the opinion he chooses. Even should the condemnation of many propositions not possess that unchangeableness peculiar to infallible decisions, nevertheless the binding force of the condemnation in regard to all the propositions is beyond doubt. For the Syllabus, as appears from the official communication of Cardinal Antonelli, is a decision given by the pope speaking as universal teacher and judge to Catholics the world over. All Catholics, therefore, are bound to accept the Syllabus. Exteriorly they may neither in word nor in writing oppose its contents; they must also assent to it interiorly.

  10. The visiting priest at my home parish this morning editorialized before the final blessing. “How about that Pope Francis huh? He is just so, so wonderful. The Church is alive again! We’re entering a new springtime of love and compassion toward the marginalized! I’ve been waiting my whole priestly life for this!”

    As Dave Berry says, I am not making this up. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if after Pope Benedict XVI goes on to his eternal reward we see another cadaver trial.

  11. Beefy, I wonder what your priest would say when I told him that the only full seminaries I know of are Catholic Traditionalist ones where most people probably would feel scandalized by Francis’s novelties. I like Francis the man. But from my perspective, he needs to learn how to behave like Pius IX, St. Pius X, or Pius XI. He hasn’t done anything I’ve liked.

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