Thursday, April 24, 2014

"More Papist than the Pope" (UPDATED)

More Catholic Than the Pope?

One of the remarks Pope Francis allegedly made to the Woman Who May Or May Not Have Been Technically Caught In Adultery But It Doesn't Matter is that the priest who had denied her communion on account of her marital irregularity was "more papist than the Pope."

"Oh, another one who is more Catholic than the Pope!" is frequently thrown into the teeth of those who criticize any of Pope Francis' words or deeds. Let's think about that.

It used to sting because, after all, who embodied more respect for, was more knowledgeable about, and more observant of the dogmas, rituals, disciplines and protocols of the Roman Catholic Church than the Pope of Rome? Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia. To be called "more Catholic than the Pope" was to be labeled as a know-it-all prig, a fanatic, a hypocrite.

Then along came Francis.

  • He did not want to be called "Pope" (hi, just another Bishop; my See happens to be Rome).
  • He rejected the traditional ceremonial dress for his debut (you wear it; carnival is over, which means you can't even say "Does the Pope wear a funny hat?" anymore -- the one about bears still works, though).
  • He didn't want to live where popes live.
  • He said he didn't believe in a Catholic God.
  • He famously dismissed a question about homosexuality with "who am I to judge?"
  • He made fun of Catholics as "rosary counters," and numerous other insults, the latest being "Bat-Christians."
  • He called a Protestant of some sort "my brother bishop."
  • He makes cold calls to random people and chats about sensitive matters of doctrinal significance and grants special dispensations over the heads of priests and bishops.
  • He is reported to have said in reference to the possibly sacrilegious reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, "a little bread and wine does no harm."
  • He praised a German cardinal's full-throated attack on the sanctity of marriage.
  • He appeared on the cover of the country's premier homosexual magazine (let's just say the Bear has never gotten that honor even for the annual bear issue).
  • He said that man was at the center of the Gospel and history (Pope John Paul II said it was Christ; you can sort that one out).

Etc., etc., etc.

It is not the Bear's intention to rehearse the entire list of eccentricities we have seen in just one year of this pontificate, surely the strangest in memory. That would involve literally hundreds of items. It is merely to note that the insult "What, are you more Catholic than the Pope?" probably stung more when Pius XII was Pope than it does today.

Why So Serious?

Is the Bear more Catholic than the Pope, in a bad way? Of course one has to wonder. To be constantly agitated by the Holy Father is a very unnatural position for someone who tries to be a faithful, regular ol' nothing-special Catholic who goes to Mass in an ordinary parish that hasn't heard a word of Latin since 1967.

The Bear feels no more or less Catholic than he has ever been. The only thing that has changed is the disruptive entry of Jorge Bergoglio into his life. (Is the Pope supposed to feel like part of a Catholic's life? For good or ill, this is product of our media age.)

The Bear has been thinking lately that maybe he does take Catholicism more seriously than the Pope. Perhaps it's just a waste of time to read old books from a Church of the past that is gone forever, like Pope Francis says. Maybe everybody does go to Heaven, or nearly so; surely a decent, or at least tame, old Bear who isn't Hitler or anything. The Bear should just enjoy life and not worry about things he can't influence anyway, and not be a sour puss or Bat Christian.

So what do you think, fellow woodland creatures? Do you ever have moments when you wonder if you're overreacting? Maybe taking an unhealthy interest in the Catholic Church? Do you ever need to take a vacation, step back and regain perspective? What do you do to get through the psychological and spiritual turmoil? How do you deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by the difference between the Church of the past and what we have today?

Better figure this out now, because a storm is coming.

The Coming Storm

The Synod on the Family is coming up in October. The Bear is far less sanguine about that than he was at the beginning of the week. Surveying a laity that has not been catechized, let alone had proper spiritual formation, was bad enough. Now, Pope Francis has planted tares with his phone stunt. Does anyone doubt that many divorced and remarried Catholics will present themselves for communion Sunday? Oh, what a pastoral nightmare this will create! Oh, what a cry to compromise will be raised!

It misses the point to argue the Pope did not change Church teaching. (And it is disappointing to see people who know this full and well nonetheless making the argument.) All the people "know" is that Pope Francis said it was okay for divorced and remarried people to take communion.

Update: EWTN Radio is running spots advising Catholics that if they are divorced and remarried without an annulment, they should not present themselves for communion. Is this how we run the Church these days?

You don't have to change dogma to change the Church, as the Bear was saying just Tuesday. One has to ask: is the Pope deliberately fomenting a revolution in his own Church, or is his erratic behavior a symptom of psychological issues?

The Synod of Woodland Creatures

Assuming the coming years continue the trend of the Bergoglio pontificate's first, where do you see yourself in, say, five years? Should we withdraw into our bubbles like good Bubble Catholics™ and pretend to have a Pius pope? (There are 12 of 'em to pick from, and you can even get a clock.) The Bear is sincerely interested in the sensus fidelium of his favorite woodland creatures, and invites them to a council in the big clearing (or at least group therapy, as one of Jane's comments had it).

In the meantime, has this changed things for the Bear?

Is the Pope Catholic?


  1. Thank you for your recent posts.

    This woodland creature is seeking shelter in the writings of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's "The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life: Volume 1 & 2"

    I've also found some fascinating writings on-line by James Larson "The War on Being"

  2. Williams...good call on Garrigou-Lagrange. Anything written by that holy priest will bear good fruit. Getting re-aquainted with St. John of the Cross will be in my future, along with getting serious again about reading more Scripture. I read a slew of Psalms at Adoration yesterday (Psalms of Lament), and they greatly helped. Also been re-reading the Prophets, and it helps to see how unspeakably relevant they are today...Hosea and parts of Jeremiah read like this mornings headlines.

  3. Agree with the suggestion about the priest. Another cheap buy on Kindle, too. I just finished St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle and learned much about prayer. Currently I'm reading The Facts About Luther. It's a real eye-opener and uses only Protestant sources! A very good antidote to all the fatuous revisionism going on in the Church.

    Scripture is such a treasure! We read a chapter a day. (Currently Song of Songs.) I don't know if you've considered trying the Divine Office, but it is nearly all psalms strung together with antiphons and prayers. Takes about 15 minutes each for Lauds and Vespers. The Benedictines say the Divine Office is the best prayer because the psalms are the Church's prayer book. The great things about the psalms is that no matter how many times you read them, they are relevant to what's going on at the moment. They never get old.

  4. Bear, you and Pete and Susan, over the past few days, have commented so eloquently here on the terrible things that are happening that I will only say that I share your feelings, and add this further comment: One particular incident, and image, keeps replaying itself in my thoughts: Upon seeing a young boy clad in cassock and surplice, his hands in the immemorial position of Christian prayer – palms together, fingers extended, at chest level – Pope Francis mocked the youngster (“Are your hands bound together? It seems like they’re stuck!”), and then pried the child’s hands apart before moving on. I just cannot fathom the utter boorishness – at best – of this behavior on the part of the Holy Father, nor – at worst – its outright evil-mindedness.

    For the Pope to have embarrassed this young boy by teasing him for holding his hands prayerfully is bad enough – but to only move on after actually FORCING THE CHILD’S HANDS APART as if to say, “Here’s what I think of your stupid praying hands and your piety!” – well, it just leaves one stunned, incredulous. And wondering what on earth could possibly motivate the leader of the Catholic Church to do such a thing.

    For this Baby Boomer, it’s a strange coincidence – though doubtless not a profound one – that one of the most moving scenes in “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (the 1972 movie about Sts. Francis and Clare) the young Francis kneels before his mother and, gazing tenderly at her uncomprehending face, gently brings her hands together in prayer.

    I, too, sense the coming storm – but try as I might, I can’t see past the gathering clouds. For now, where once I divided my Mass attendance pretty evenly between the Novus and the Vetus Ordo (both are offered at my parish, Deo gratias!) I have in recent months found myself increasingly seeking the formality, beauty, and freedom from novelty that I find in the Vetus Ordo – even though the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated very reverently at our parish. I am seeking the pre-Vatican II Church – and, thanks to Pope Francis, am finally unashamed to say so.

  5. Jane, I had not heard of this very sad story. Francis must burn with an unnatural hatred of anything traditional. I suspect we have seen our last Latin American pope for a very long time.

    Either the most devout and well-catechized element of the Church has become demonically possessed all at once, or in the space of a week people are reaching clarity and putting the mental gymnastics behind them over this Pope. God knows I have struggled and given him the benefit of the doubt where possible and, yes, personally suffered, as I know everyone here has over this. We are the ones who take it seriously. We are the ones whose hearts have been broken. I wanted to like Pope Francis. We all did. I don't know enough casuistry to meet all the arguments from the bornagain ultramontanists who reject everything before Vatican II except Papal Infallibility (now). But 2+2 doesn't equal 5. If the Church's historical consensus was that it did, I'd probably have to accept it in some way, as St. Ignatius Loyola wrote that if the Church said black was white, then we should accept it. FORTUNATELY, the Church never said that. I don't think the Church ever said one unsound Pope could single-handedly require us to help him destroy the Church. Denzinger's is not a suicide pact.

    I am happy for you that you have the option for a beautiful traditional Latin Mass, Jane. I am embarrassed for Jesus that he has to come to me in such banal and irreverent surroundings.


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