Friday, October 17, 2014

Cardinal Ottaviani Is Smiling

And the woodland creatures
Sandro Magister, as usual, provides a good summary of the Synod to date. There has been rejoicing among the woodland creatures, but the thrust of the article is that the long-term publicity gains may outweigh the the clear victory by the forces of fidelity.

To recap, the bishops rebelled against having the infamous relatio (working paper) foisted upon them. The details about who wrote what are not as important as it was a nasty piece of work by Pope Francis' gang. It denigrated sacramental matrimony and exalted homosexual orientation as a thing of value. The world watched the wheels come off of first the synod, then Cardinal Kasper, and, ultimately, Pope Francis himself.

The Pope was forced to pepper his hand-picked enforcers with with the formidable Archbishop Hart and Cardinal Napier. Furthermore, the members would release their own reports.

It was a disaster for the Franciscan minority, who looked so thuggish and bumbling a new word is required: thugling.

Yet, what is the meta-narrative? Reactionary hardliners slam the door on gays and the remarried? And, this is not the end. Francis is, after all, still Pope, still beloved of a slobbering media, and still riding uninformed, but popular sentiment for the relaxation of every below-the-belt issue.

One cannot, however, but smile when remembering Vatican II. Then Cardinal Ottaviani was almost the lone voice that remained faithful to tradition, and he was literally hooted down by the council majority. Those of us who feared history would repeat itself can afford that smile. Let's enjoy our victory.

And, one may imagine, Cardinal Ottaviani, is smiling, too.


  1. I worry that all the orthodox celebration over yesterday's events might be a tad premature. It's certainly a great thing that the group reports were made public, and that we are much better informed as to the identities of the friends and enemies of the Christ. But still...

    Well, let's put it this way: Can there be any serious doubt that the Holy Father is the principal author of the relatio? I mean, take Section 5 (please):

    5. Anthropological and cultural change today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, able to discern the positive forms of individual freedom. It is necessary to be aware of the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute.

    That bolded sentence, right there, should be sufficient to bring to a screeching halt all the hand-wringing and moaning about Doesn't the Holy Father know what's going on? Why doesn't he speak up? It's 100% pure Francis-brand word-salad through and through. The man has an incredibly distinctive (if utterly opaque) style. He speaks like this in his homilies and interviews, and Evangelii Gaudium is (as far as I can tell) written largely in this style. How does individualism become exasperated? Does individualism simpliciter distort family bonds, or does it need to be exasperated first? How does the abstract concept of exasperated individualism end up anywhere, let alone considering each component of the family as an isolated unit? How precisely does that, in turn, lead (in only some cases, thankfully), to the the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute?

    But you get the picture. We've been wrestling with these impenetrable thickets of papal jargon since early last year. The point is, if the Holy Father wrote the relatio, he's fully aware and in control of events, and like the Cylons, he has a plan. He's not about to give up in the face of a little episcopal pushback, especially not when he has both the secular world and the liberal catholic press* pushing his narrative and spinning for him.

    The chances are pretty good that whatever document turns up tomorrow will have sufficient tweaking to put the Patheos crew back to sleep while retaining all the time bombs and insinuations required to give synodal cover to the Kasperites. Consider that Mark Shea rushed to give the Stamp of Catholic Soundness to the relatio; how much more so once it's been subjected to the group-report process and "corrected" accordingly.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I fear that tomorrow will see a great many restorationist hopes dashed and hearts broken.

    *But I repeat myself.

    1. I wonder if any of those quick to certify the relatio 100% Grade A Horsemeat feel foolish now that it's blown up in their faces? I suspect shame is an emotion many have sacrificed a long time ago.

    2. I cringe every time I click a shortened link and unintentionally visit a Patheo$ site, so I haven't kept up with the spin cycle over there. If blog comments are any indication, no orthodox Catholics continue to defend the relatio, but a great many cling desperately to the flotsam notion that a man who served as Provincial Superior of the Jesuits, rector of a theological school, and Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires is a mere bumbling ingénue, the protagonist from Being There somehow transplanted into the Vatican. He's well-meaning and so wise (in an admittedly elliptical fashion), but, well ... a bit naive about the ways of the world. But he's so nice, so why doesn't someone tell him about these people ruining his synod with all their terrible machinations?

      For a particularly excruciating example of this tendency, take William Oddie's latest over at the Catholic Herald.

      Poor old Michael Voris is likewise still hoping against hope. His latest Vortex is tellingly titled Pope Francis' Dilemma. It will be most interesting indeed to see how he deals with Burke's comments today.

      At the same time, there's a definite shift in sentiment alongside all the wishful thinking: many Catholics have shifted from a neutral position to openly arguing against the polyannas. For an encouraging example of this, read journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty in the comments on Oddie's article.

      Still, I've been developing for some time know a definite sense that "something wicked this way comes". Perhaps it will arrive tomorrow, God help us.

  2. Opacity is not necessarily an accident.

    1. All popes attract sycophants and careerists, and I'd expect to see people trying to imitate the boss's style in order to fit in ... but that? That is unmistakable Francis.

      Did you catch the almost demonically sly bit in Section 14 about how Jesus reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. Emphasis added.

      This seems pretty Franciscan as well. Remember how he tendentiously construed Matthew 23:15 as a condemnation of proselytization? This is similar: Jesus revoked the Mosaic permission of divorce; he didn't understand it, in the sense of appreciating or sympathizing with it. The phrasing seems designed to soften and relativize Christ's words even while acknowledging them.

      Sorry for going on, but wow, this is deeply weird. As someone said on Twitter a couple of days ago: "Oh crap, I live in interesting times."

    2. No, I agree that this is Franciscan "word salad," (a description for nonsense jabbered by schizophrenics).

      Yes, I caught the very wrong construction placed on Christ's condemnation of divorce. I was surprised that an educated Catholic, let alone a high-ranking Churchman, would try to fake his way past Jesus.

      It was similar to the suggestion that since couples in an irregular relationship could take a spiritual communion, why couldn't they take actual communion?

      Clearly, the author (and I agree Pope Francis was involved) attempted to anticipate some of the best objections and came up with these tortured arguments. They don't have to be good. They just have to give talking points to dissidents and sound half-way plausible to the media.

      The Vatican II analogy from Lumen Gentium between Protestant faith communities and irregular marriages was strained and strange, too. The way I read it was that whatever "good stuff" you get in a good, sacramental marriage was present, only in some lesser measure, in two people shacked up together. In other words, the difference between holy matrimony and an LTA (and, I suppose a one night stand, because, after all, the new favorite Franciscan hymn is Whatever Gets You Through the Night) is a matter of degree, not kind.

      So what does Holy Matrimony and living together or hooking up have in common? Sex and one roof.

    3. P.S. thanks to everyone who makes this blog what it is through excellent, well-written comments. It says a lot when the comments are better than the articles! (Sometimes.)

  3. This sad business brings to my mind Matthew 21:12-13 where Jesus clears out the money changers from the Temple and declares His house as a house of prayer when others were making it a den of sin.


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