PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian



Perhaps one reason we have never had a Jesuit pope before, is that so many Jesuits write in a jargon-laden fashion that is hard for non-Jesuits to figure out.  Case in point:  self-absorbed promethean neopelagian.  Pope Francis uses this baroque insult in Evangelii Gaudium:


94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.

Now what does the Pope mean by this, other than he is really ticked off by people who do not believe that Vatican II is the be-all and end-all of Catholicism?  I’ll be hanged if I can figure it out.  Father Ray Blake at his blog thinks that he knows:

The term “Prometheism” was suggested by the Greek myth of Prometheus, whose gift of fire to mankind, in defiance of Zeus, came to symbolize enlightenment and resistance to despotic authority, it was the name of an early 20th century slightly anarchic Polish political movement but it drew its inspiration from the enlightenment which is perhaps significant here. Perhaps what the Pope is suggesting is something individualistic, something which is actually contrary to Catholic Tradition. It is the self-righteous or as the Pope would say, ‘self-referential’, pretentious Phariseeism that quotes documents and texts to condemn others but actually refuses to be converted by them.

“Neopelagianism” is an easier term, it excludes the necessity of Grace for salvation, again it is individualistic, again it excludes a dependence on God, which is at the heart of Francis’ preaching on ‘mercy’.
He links the whole phrase to those who, ‘observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past’. He has used ‘neopelagian’ previously to describe certain traditional Catholics, well actually the SSPX. I think what he is saying, which the whole of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be saying is that we have be absorbed into the wondrous life-changing joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than being curators of a museum or experimenters in a laboratory.

Uh huh.  Well moving right along, Father Z has decided to embrace the term:

Are you a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian?

I have just the thing for you!

I added a new section to my Z-Swag store at Cafepress.

There are bumper-stickers, car-magnets, coffee mugs, buttons and few other items.

Here is a view of the smaller coffee mug.  Picture yourself drinking your Mystic Monk Coffee or tea from this fine beverageware.

Don’t like coffee or tea… or Orange Fanta?  Get one anyway and put pencils in it.

You surely need a sticker or magnet for your car!  Imagine the puzzled looks you’ll get when you stop at a light, drive down the road, and then pull into your parish’s parking lot!

Having fun with impenetrably vague labels.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch is puzzled why Pope Francis wants to pick a fight with people who are doing their best to follow the teachings of the Church when the Church is confronted by so many real problems, but perhaps PopeWatch is just a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian elder brother!

Update:  Mark Shea is greatly put out by Father Z pandering to his “reactionary” (that is Shea’s new buzz word since Pope Francis came along) readers, and Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report responds here.


More to explorer


  1. The Holy Father’s reference to Neo-Pelagianism echoes the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger used during the Spiritual Exercises of 1986 (in the book “Guardare Cristo: esempi di fede, speranza e carità” [Looking at Christ: Examples of faith, hope and charity] – “the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…”

    St Thomas teaches that “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another, if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [Ia, q. 20, a. 3] He also says in article 4 of the same Question and also in Ia, q. 23, a. 4: “In God, love precedes election.”

    This presupposes, according to St. Thomas, a decree of the divine will rendering our salutary acts intrinsically efficacious [Ia, q. 19, a. 8]. For, if they were efficacious on account of our foreseen consent, of two people equally loved and helped by God, one would be better in some respect. He would be better of himself alone and not on account of divine predilection.”

    St Augustine, the Doctor of Grace says, “For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hear or do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, “To you,” said He, “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt. xiii. 11) Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the other to the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, “I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, O Lord.” (Ps. CI: 1) [Praescientia et Praeparatio Beneficiorum Dei 14:35] and, again, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? But if the obstinacy of the will can be such that the mind’s aversion from all modes of calling becomes hardened, the question is whether that very hardening does not come from some divine penalty, as if God abandons a man by not calling him in the way in which he might be moved to faith. Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?” (Ad Simplician, 13-14)

    The scriptures confirm this in many places: “I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19); and “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Rom 9:16)

    One cannot get more traditional than that.

  2. Please MPS, the strawmen enemies that the Pope erected will collapse under the verbiage you raise in his defense. One of the more annoying features about the current papacy is the lack of correlation between the world and the world as the Pope chooses to see it.

  3. Christopher Ferrara has written of ‘the ugly traditionalist’ and you see fragments of it in The Remnant (and the exchange of brickbats between Ferrara himself and Thomas Woods?). The thing is, such people are a tiny sliver the observant Catholic population most places other than France and are generally tolerated and nothing more by diocesan officialdom. (Try to find a bishop in the English-speaking world who had ever offered the extraordinary form at a public mass at any time since 1970).

    You have a stew of corruption in loci like the California province of the Society of Jesus about which nothing is done that anyone knows about and then you have the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate manhandled terribly. The Holy See has its priorities; just not ones that seem at all sensible.

  4. I should clarify that “the ugly traditionalists” constitute a tiny sliver of the Catholic population most places and that traditionalists in general are tolerated and nothing more.

  5. This statement is exactly how the Pope views conservative traditionalists, and he fails (and refuses) to realize that it is the liberals whom he embraces who are possessed of the narcissistic and authoritarian elitism which he by covert implication ascribes to conservative traditionalists:

    “The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.”

    We have gotten the leader we deserve: liberal, progressive leftist.

  6. I think the Pope “sounds” like a liberal democrat.

    To wit, Papa’s uncharitable “self-absorbed”(arrogant), “promethean” (humanist – don’t need God, pagan) “pelageans” (deny existence of Original Sin, but Pelagius merely claimed that Christ had abolished Original Sin) are not THE problem facing Holy Mother the Church.

    Pope Francis may see them as one of his “worst nightmares.” And, that is a problem.

  7. “…but who am I to judge?”

    It is an observation, not a judgment, that this Pope:

    (a) Talks like a liberal progressive leftist
    (b) Writes like a liberal progressive leftist
    (c) Acts like a liberal progressive leftist

    “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Of course, there have been really terrible Popes in the past, especially during the Middle Ages. The gates of hell, however, did not prevail and will not prevail. We have been fortunate in the 19th and 20th centuries to have overall rather good Popes, but good and bad Popes come and go, yet the Church marches on.

    BTW, considering the current Pope’s age, it is unlikely this will be a long Pontificate, not however that we should ever wish for its untimely termination. Nevertheless, God is in control. He has seen it appropriate to give us the political leader we merit – Barack Hussein Obama – and the religious leader we merit – Pope Francis. We really do not deserve any better, but just as God allowed these leaders to assume their authority, He will remove them from such authority in whatever manner He choses when He sees fit and not until He sees fit. We can only rely on His grace and mercy.

  8. Why did you have to link to Mark Shea? Yes, he is a fascinating writer: I have seen no one who is more wrong in how he defends stands that are so correct than Shea. He is palatable only in small doses.

  9. Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists? Remember the Gospel: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    The rest of us just need to remember that this language does not make leftist progressiveness into the new orthodoxy. Father Z’s phrase “experimenters in a laboratory” would seem to reinforce that view.

  10. “Paul, if Pope Francis is indeed a liberal progressive leftist, and if he indeed defends the Faith (and there is little indication that he won’t), then couldn’t he perhaps be God’s agent for the conversion of liberal progressive leftists?”

    Dialogue and conciliation never converted a liberal progressive leftist. Indeed, those are the very things liberal progressive leftists want, using them to obfuscate, confuse, delay and avoid compliance. What converts liberal progressive leftists is to suffer the abject pain of the failure of liberal progressive leftist policies and programs.

    The prophet Jeremiah did not dialogue nor conciliate with the King and his court.

    John the Baptist did not dialogue nor conciliate with Herod and the religious elite of his time.

    St. Paul did not dialogue nor conciliate with the rebellion at the Church of Corinth, nor did St. Clement later on.

    St. John did not dialogue nor conciliate with the Seven Churches in Asia Minor.

    But this Pope is all about dialogue and conciliation. Liberal. Progressive. Leftism.

  11. Pelagius denied the biblical sense of human depravity. He failed to grasp its effects. When pelagianism is accepted as a belief it erodes one’s understanding of how we come to God. Fundamentally, we must be made right with him. This does not happen through human effort. It is a gift. A gift that is completely unmerited and undeserved. God extends this gracious offer to the world and we can accept or reject it, but we cannot earn it.

  12. Paul, you are being unfair. I for one never used the word “dialogue”, nor when I wrote of Pope Francis being an “agent for conversion” had I been thinking of the kind of dialogue you have in mind.

    Consider this quote from Pope Francis while at Mass on Thursday November 26, 2013:

    “We can not talk about religion, it’s a private thing, no? Do not speak of this publicly. Religious signs are removed. We must obey the orders of worldly powers. We can do many things, beautiful things, but not worship God. Prohibition of worship. This is the center of the end. And when we arrive at the fullness – the ‘kairos’ of this attitude, when this pagan time has come – then yes, it will be Him: ‘And they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’. Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…We should not be afraid , He only asks us for faithfulness and patience. Faithful like Daniel, who was faithful to his God and worshiped God until the end. Patience, so that the hair of our head will not fall off. Thus the Lord has promised . This week we would do well to think of this general apostasy, which is called the prohibition of worship and ask: ‘Do I adore the Lord? Do I adore Jesus Christ, the Lord, or only a little, ‘half and half, I play the game of the prince of this world?” Worshiping until the end, with the trust and faithfulness: this is the grace that we ask this week”

    These are not the words of a Pope destined to be the hero of progressive leftists.

  13. Jon sums up the heresy of Pelagius very well, in pointing out that it undermines the sheer gratuity of grace and leads to a “gospel of works.”

    As the Council of Toucy explained, “nothing is done in heaven or on earth, except what God either graciously does Himself or permits to be done, in His justice.” That is to say, no good, here and now, in this man rather than in another, comes about unless God Himself graciously wills and accomplishes it, and no evil, here and now, in this man rather than another, comes about unless God Himself justly permits it to be done.

  14. Why does the pope believe there is a war between evangelization and the desire to maintain the integrity of the faith? Both are needed. If you are all evangelization and have no stewards, what exactly are you evangelizing? Mush?

  15. Thank you Paul Primavera last quote of that article from Card Wuerl:

    “Don’t we have to give this pope time?” he said. I wonder what that means! Time to more completely lessen the Burker effect?

    God bless us

  16. Christians who suffer persecution, prohibition of worship are a prophecy of what will happen to us all…

    And he seems to be self-fulfilling that prophecy with the treatment of the FFI.

  17. Mr. Primavera, Cardinal Burke is still with the Apostolic Signatura. He is
    no longer a part of the Congregation for Bishops, and his position has been
    given to Cardinal Wuerl.

  18. The SAPN’s that Pope Frances speaks of certainly do exist and are only a small sliver of our Catholic population. However, they are a sliver that many, not just the far left, use as their excuse to move away from the faith and sometimes sincerely believe being driven away. Perhaps the Pope is removing this crutch as an excuse by acknowledging it “out loud.” And while the exclusionary, Pharisee Catholic is a problem, certainly not on the scale of the liberal, who knows what they stand for, feeling the love Catholic that want to “unstufferize” our Church if they happen to attend. So why go after the speck instead of the log? Perhaps he is trying to clear our vision before taking on the heavy lifting.
    I understand being alarmed, keeping watch, feeling unsettled right now about this papacy, and it would be uplifting to get a shout out to those of us trying to be faithful to the Magisterium (that we even know the word deserves a clap). However, as an outsider looking in on many of the exchanges here, a very orthodox outsider, it seems some are far to fast to summarily judge this pope in the negative. I share your concerns but he may be just what we need. I don’t think any of us know the answer yet.

  19. I believe Kevin is on to something here. He states in his last sentence, concerning peoples’ comments etc on the way Pope Francis is going: “I don’t think any of us know the answer yet”. I believe that to be very accurate, minus the fact that we know he was given the job description of ‘cleaning up the Curia’ [a job that basically has been going on since at least the Council of Trent]

    One paradigm however does come to mind. Now I am stating beforehand-this is just my idea, it is not gospel or teaching of the Church etc. It is simply my taking in all the various factos of what is going on in the Church etc and attempting to make sense of it—-is that even possible lol?

    What if, and I say, what if, Pope Benedict was the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the diverse and hard to describe other than ‘traditionalist’ Catholics who themselves were shocked by what they perceived to be the disruption of Church tradition. While some blame Vatican II itself, others see the problem in the so called ‘spirit of Vatican II’ genre that indeed have a great deal of influence within the larger Church for some time (60’s and 70’s). Many of these people simply wanted their Latin Mass and full Catholic Teachings being passed on to the next generation etc.. Pope Benedict grounded the Church in the hermeneutic of continuity- once and for all banishing ‘the hermeneutic of rupture’ from within the teaching office of the Church [Pope and bishops]. He then began what can be only described as the Reform of the Reform: first within theology of Revelation, maintaining the direction of Dei Verbum with the historical-critical method but now developing that into the canonical method of interpreting Scripture and making Dei Verbum the foundation and fountain of the Church’s reception of Vatican II. With the Liturgy he did likewise, first enabling those who wished to participate in the Latin Mass a full freedom to do so with the hope that the EF and OF of the Roman Rite would learn from each other and grow into a synthesis, and organic reform of the Roman Rite. He drew in very diverse aspects of Catholic Church teaching within the hermeneutic of charity: showing that Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio (loved by ‘liberal’ Catholics) and Humanae Vitae (held if not loved by
    more ‘conservative’ Catholics) were both aspects of Catholic Social Teaching. In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity. Some will be drawn into the mainstream and others will not-still claiming Vatican II to be the problem etc. But that attempt for reconciliation and communion has been and is still being made.

    Now what if, and again I stress, what if, Pope Francis is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to do for the so called ‘progressives’ in the Church what Pope Benedict did for the so called ‘traditionalists’? He is speaking out of the center and mainstream of the Church as Pope Benedict did [although both groups on the right and the left might deny that about the ‘other’ pope] yet he is definitely speaking in a way that is drawing at least the attention of the ‘progressives’. Pope Francis obviously believes in the hermeneutic of continuity, now he is reaching out to those who have believed in the ‘rupture’ from a progressive ‘spirit of Vatican II’ view, those who believe the Church totally rebooted in 1965.

    I believe also that there is an intuitive sense within the mainstream of the Church that ‘the time is short’. No, no, I am not predicting the end of the world and Christ’s Final Coming. What I am saying is is that ‘the time is short’ for the window of opportunity to reach out to the portions of the Church that are either outright alienated from the Church and no longer in full communion with the Church, or to those wandering out there on the fringes. I cannot predict the future, but I do not believe the immediate future of the Church is ‘peaches and cream’ from the point of view of ‘the world’. I believe we are in for some tough sledding, and there will be a time in which we will no longer really be able to reach out to various disparate groups.

    While I am at it, it might be humorous, but I am a bit dismayed that Fr Z has gone in this direction. While all in the Church are responsible for ‘the communion of the Church’, those in holy orders are to be men of communion, not just officially, but actively fostering and increasing it at every opportunity. I like Fr Z’s comments for the most part, so I am not a real critic of him, however, on this one-I do have a problem with what he has done here.

  20. In short, I believe, Pope Benedict is the Lord’s and the Church’s attempt to reach out to the fragmented members of the Church with a more traditional sensitivity.
    Why are they fragmented? Very often, it’s because they are in a situation contrary to Church teachings. With Pope Francis, one of two things are going to happen:
    1) The fragmented go beyond the words and realize the pope is not changing Church teachings. They return to their frustration.
    2) The pope speaks “imprecisely.” It’s interpreted as the pope taking a liberal stand and has given license to continue an illicit situation.
    Neither is desirable. But maybe, just maybe, he is able to get the ear of a disenfranchised person, and the person begins to see their situation needs to conform to the teachings of the Church. More than one way to bring people to Mother Church. We’ll see what Pope Francis can do.

  21. Folks, if you want to know why the Franciscans of the Immaculate have been belted with a heavy piece of 4×2 timber, the answer is right here in Evanagelii Gaudium. Their devotion to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass marks them out as being “intransigently faithful” (in the Pope’s words) to “a particular Catholic style from the past”. Go to jail. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $200. Not “humbly faithful” or “heroically faithful” or “devotedly faithful”, you’ll notice. No, “intransigently faithful.”

    Continuing the Pope’s train of thought, we can therefore conclude, as the Pope himself states, that these pitiful priests and brothers must be “self-absorbed promethean neopelagians” who “feel superior to everybody else”.

    Away with them!!

    Note that the Pope does not use the word “tradition” but “style”, as if the Tridentine Rite was some sort of fad, like flared trousers or hula hoops which can be dispensed with on a whim. However, the real kicker in this screed, is his assertion that people attached to these traditions “feel superior to everybody else”. Really? Isn’t this a little …um……judgmental? What happened to the “who am I to judge?” mantra? This sort of language is most unpapal and is little more than internet combox trash talk. In their writings, popes point out the way forward in a positive manner and when things are condemned, it is ideas; e.g. heresy, false theology etc., and not a particular group of people.

    It’s clear from this passage that the Pope is saying that believing in a hermeneutic of continuity is an impediment to accepting the Gospel in its entirety. One must break with the past in a hermeneutic of rupture in order to embrace the Gospel. Moreover, when one examines the “bigger picture” of what has been happening in the Church over the past half-century, can one really say that its mission has been impeded due to it being overrun with “promethean neopelagians”? Quite the contrary. Surely, it has been the rupture from the past which has spread confusion, heresy, trivialization of the sacred mysteries, liturgical improvization, vocational collapse and catechetical disaster.

    Why this animus to a relatively small number of Catholics who still cling to their Catholic heritage?

  22. The “fragmentation” is nothing new.

    In 1904, during the doctrinal crisis prompted by the writings of Alfred Loisy, Maurice Blondel published a series of articles, entitled “History and Dogma.”

    In one of them, he says, “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.”

    A century on, little has changed.

  23. No, no, Donald McClarey: you are missing something here: tradionals cant be “straw men” but clearly are the new Red Menace. They are also “crypto-lefebvrian and definite traditionalists” (=stated as the enemy lurking around corners and in dark alleys in the Franciscans/Mary Immaculate case). I love these ‘neo-Baroque’ very Jesuit non-judging categorizations, dont you? So COOL! As Paul Primavera points out, though, far be it from this Pope to JUDGE: oh, no, no, no!
    (I laugh at the paranoia PF and the official Novus Ordo Churchdom is exhibiting.
    Clearly part of the Clintonesque “vast right-wing conspiracy” of the Koch brothers.)
    Warning, Will Robinson, danger!!

  24. Kiwiinamerica,

    Pope Francis does hold to and employ the hermeneutic of continuity. Only yesterday a close friend of Pope Benedict communicated that he is very much at home with Pope Francis’ theological positions etc. There is continuity not disruption.

    I have said many times that the desire to participate in the EF is not a problem, nor should it be. When PF is making these comments he is not speaking of Catholic traditionalists who desire the EF, hold to the teachings of the Church, hold VII as an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Counsel of the Church and recognize the OF as a valid (even if they do not prefer it) Liturgy of the Most Holy Eucharist.

    The issues within the Friars, sadly is far more complicated than simply wanting the EF.

    Now whether or not PF ought to direct comments toward those who do not accept VII or the OF and view everything as a rupture-that is another subject. I myself would rather attempt to keep trying to reconcile as many as possible who are closer to the Church than others. It is already becoming evident, and I say this with great sadness, that there is already a fragmentation within the SSPX taking place. Certainly the SSPV splintered away years ago.
    I desire reconciliation and communion not further distancing. At the same time there comes a point when a segment of the Church that cannot abide with a Council does, sadly become distinct and divided from the Catholic Church-it happened at Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Trent, and Vatican I. I pray that difficulties Catholics are struggling with at this point can indeed be resolved constructively, that reconciliation and full communion and peace can once again reign As the Psalmist says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” I do everyday.

  25. Botolph (as usual) makes an excellent point.

    If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    The flaw in the position of all of them is the same. “We are the faithful, for we hold the true faith,” but when asked, “what is the true faith?” they can only answer, “the faith that we hold.”

    Now, there is only one way out of this vicious circle that I know. As Mgr Ronald Knox insisted, “The fideles, be they many or few, be their doctrine apparently traditional or apparently innovatory, be their champions honest or unscrupulous, are simply those who are in visible communion with the see of Rome.” It enables us to determine who the faithful are, without the question-begging preliminary of examining their tenets.

    It is a test remarkably easy of application; just what one would expect of the criterion of a divine message, intended for all, regardless of learning, capacity or circumstances.

  26. Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39) Does this not continue to be our struggle within the Church and greater world? Had Jesus chosen to do it his way, I am sure he would have chosen something fantastically good. But, like we are all called to do, Jesus bowed His will to His Heavenly Father. And as MP-S points out, a la Fr. Knox, a measure of this is our obedience to the See of Rome. I think Botolph correctly points out that the SSPX problems are not with the Rite, but something deeper. And the deeper problem of “doing it my way” (even if is not a bad way) is the ferment for fragmentation and why this world is so fragmented. It is very possible Botolph’s thread that this Pope is trying to reconcile as many as he can in what looks to be very difficult times ahead for our Church. I do not think he is picking on Traditionalists, nor do I think he is trumpeting liberalism. I do think that he understands what Chesterton pointed out: That is conservatives get it wrong when they try to keep things as they were. The fence gets ragged and needs repainting. It is still a fence but the new coat or paint makes it presentable again. PF, I believe, is trying to get us to make our Church look more presentable to the broader population – but we are still The Church with all of Her teachings in tact. And how can we get others to join us in bowing their wills to the Truth of Mother Church if we ourselves refuse to bow our own wills on how to do things? Methinks if people see we do as we say in all things, some will still turn away, but some will come along.

  27. Yes Kevin,

    I read someplace, I wish I could remember where, and who said it-in the interest of transparency it was not me-that the Church has Councils of the Church not to change anything but so that She might remain the Catholic Church-with all the vast changes of history and issues arising within and outside the Church. That is exactly why the hermeneutic of continuity is so important. The pre-Vatican II Church is the same Church as the post- Vatican II Church, even with the cosmetic differences. It is the denial of this fundamental truth that those maintaining the hermeneutic of rupture-from either progressive or ultra-traditionalist sides that is the problem.

  28. If one rejects VII or the NO, what possible answer does one have to the Armenians and Copts, who claim to be faithful to apostolic tradition by rejecting Chalcedon, or what answer do any of them have to the Assyrian Orthodox, who claim to be yet more faithful by rejecting Ephesus?

    It was a pastoral council. I am sure you can find Latin traditionalists who say the NO is not a valid Mass (Christopher Ferrara is not among them). The question at had is whether tinkering with the liturgy was at all prudent. As far as many of us can see, there are two answers to that question:

    1. No.

    2. Yes, because the contemporary clergy are so undisciplined they’d have trashed the traditional rite if they still had to use it.

  29. The problem is not with the EF. The problem is that the Novus Ordo was created as a liturgy that would be more palatable to certain Protestant churches in the hope that these Protestants might be willing to join the Catholic Church. It has failed.

    Bishops’ conferences and liturgical committees and bad translations (some recently somewhat corrected) have made a mess of the Novus Ordo, which at its best is not as prayerful as the TLM. I am not rejecting it as invalid, as some in the SSPX do, but pointing out the reality of the situation. The NO as often celebrated has set back relations with the Eastern Orthodox.

    PF hasn’t much idea how to relate to the outside world as he has shown his Latin American upbringing and culture and Jesuit background.

  30. Art Deco,

    We keep hearing that the Second Vatican Council was pastoral. In the sense that its mission was to focus on the mission of the Church, rather than on some specific doctrine questioned by some personality or group-that is true. However, “ultra-traditionalists” use the word to minimalize the Council so that it is all but non-existant in their eyes. Of course, first, that is living in a dream world. Vatican II was indeed an Ecumenical Council of the Church and now part of the magisterial tradition of the Church, just as Vatican I, Trent, etc. It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity. Nonetheless, it presented and passed on the Tradition of the Church in a way that is very distinctive.

    It is much like the vast shift which took place within the Church when She moved from a Jewish Church to the Graeco-Roman world view, culture and language. It was the same Church but within a major paradigm shift. Some indeed did try to maintain the ‘older paradigm’ but found themselves, in time ‘lost’ and divided themselves.

    Vatican II is an authentic and authoritative Ecumenical Council of the Church and the OF is a valid Mass and real manifestation of the Roman Rite-just as the EF is. There can be no ambiguity to this. There is no wiggle room. I am not sure how much more clearly I can express it.

  31. Penguins Fan,

    I appreciate what you said. Certainly the way the OF has been celebrated in places, not according to ‘the rubrics’, has been a problem. I do not hold to that ‘belief’ in certain circles that the OF was formed to placate Protestants etc. What I do believe is that the OF as promulgated in the Roman Missal of 2003, is an expression of a two-fold task:

    1)Continuing what the Council of Trent mandated: that the Liturgy be reformed according to the Fathers [as the general Introduction to the Roman Missal states-the difference is that at Vatican II we had a more comprehensive understanding of what the form of the Roman rite was because of the Biblical, Patristic, historical ressourcement that had taken place for a hundred years before the Council

    2) the Principles and directives of the Second Vatican Council Fathers in Sacro Sanctum Concilium. It is true, there are ‘criticisms’ of the Reform, but if the OF were invalid or even so horrible, wouldn’t Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict have suppressed it or, say called it the EF and the commonly called Tridentine Mass the OF?

    FYI My biggest complaint at this point is the use of hymns versus the Propers: Entrance Antiphons etc and the loss of some continuity of the language of the Liturgy. For example, when Mass was translated from Aramaic to Greek, we kept the Alleuia and Amen. When Mass was translated from Greek to Latin, we kept the Kyrie/Christe eleison, but when Mass was translated from Latin into the vernacular we did not keep any Latin: the Agnus Dei would have been very appropriate and easily known what it meant.

    The loss of the musical patrimony of the Church is the biggest loss I believe we experienced and that needs o be rectified [see I can criticize things too. However I accept VII and the OF]

  32. You mean you are not thrilled to be singing, “A a baa, you are our pa a pa, give us our ba a ba, and show us your wuv.” This version of Abba was suggested to me and it has never left my mind. I apologize if anyone liked this piece and now will be haunted by these words. I don’t mean to be irreverent about our current state of music, but it is pretty sad.

  33. Penguins Fan

    If by “not as prayerful as the TLM,” you mean “often completely inaudible, so that those present could engage in their private devotions undisturbed,” then I would agree.

    I was 24 years old in 1969, when the Novus Ordo was introduced, so I well remember the Tridentine mass and the manner in which it was, for the most part, celebrated.

    I recall Low Mass in Notre Dame de Paris in the 1950s – the choir, from the chancel arch to the high altar is 36m and the transept adds a further 14m, so someone in the front row of seats was 50m (162 feet) from the priest, under a vault 33m high. The nave is 60m long, so someone at the back was about 100m from the celebrant – about the length of a football field. There was no sound system.

    Not a word of what the priest said could be heard and the Sanctus bell served a very practical purpose. When he turned to us, we knew, of course, that he was saying “Dominus vobiscum,” but, had he said « Salut les copains » only the server would have been any the wiser. Sermons were preached from the pulpit in the nave. Without a homily, mass lasted for some 20 minutes.

    That is, perhaps, an extreme case, but even in the typical parish church of the period, the distance from altar to front pew was often a good 20m (65 feet).

  34. Kevin

    LOL no nor Cum bay ya or “Take this bread” or even “Gather us in”. This might shock all on this blog but hymns were part of the tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours, not the Most Holy Eucharist. Being mostly from the religious orders, the Reformers introduced the hymns into their services. Actually the hymns only came into the Mass during the 20th century AND in most cases, before the Second Vatican Council-so it can’t be blamed for that either.

  35. are we talking about how the pope is handling the diverse opinions? or are we comparing the masses. I like both at different times. I follow along on the translated page and I don’t do my “private” devotions, when I am at that mass, but I do feel a part of something bigger than just the local cathedral when at the old mass. When at the new mass I follow along and try to participate much in the same way — sursum corda – at either and both.
    as far as how the pope is handling it I agree with someone who said Papa Francis could use some more PR saavy help. I like the pope. I like what bishop Conley said

  36. Mr. Patterson-Seymour,

    I don’t need to hear the priest’s prayers at Consecration. I can follow them in my missal. The priest is praying to God, not performing for me. Silence is something I appreciate at Mass. I was six in 1969 and I cannot remember going to anything but a NO Mass until 1999.

    The TLM should have been translated into the vernacular – parts of it, anyway – for those who wanted it. That should have been the end of it.

    Boltoph, I never said that the NO was invalid and please don’t think that I am saying that. What I am at this point is so fed up with how the NO is celebrated at almost anywhere I have been in my life that I can’t take it anymore – and I won’t.

    I admit to being influenced by Father Z and his blog. The good Father knows much more than I do and I find his insight fascinating and informing. Fr. Z has never claimed the NO to be invalid. Poorly put together and often poorly celebrated, but not invalid.

  37. Penguins Fan,

    I never thought you questioned the validity of the OF. I actually don’t believe most if any who regularly post here do question its validity. That’s why I use the term “Ultra-traditionalists”. Sorry if there was any confusion or ambiguity in my earlier post.

  38. I am glad that Botolph and I guess Michael PS have agreed now that no new doctrine was defined @ Vat2 (Botolph: “It is true no new dogmas were promulgated, the Church after the Council is the same One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the one before: hermeneutic of continuity.” But if no new doctrine(s) were defined at Vat2 (as Paul VI, JP2, and BXVI have said) why is it now the sine qua non for “Catholic” faith? What are the occult doctrines that we must believe stemming from a pastoral council, or we are “in schism” as Michael PS likes to throw around. Traditionals believe what we all once believed; worship the way we once worshipped; pray the way we once prayed. If we all were right then, traditional worship is right now. If wrong then, we are all wrong now. Are the above-referenced individuals now admitting what is in fact the case—that what was written in the constitutions and decrees of the Council are quite different from what was subsequently effected under the guise of “The Spirit of Vatican II (Romano Amerio’s “circiterism”). Again, compare what Sacro Concilium actually says, as to what is now the “Ordinary Form” of the Mass: a near-complete contradiction. But that is only one area of the rupture, and we find “Vatican II-Catholics” running to the legal authority of an “Ecumenical Council” which did not prescribe the Novus Ordo Mass, which did not authorize the break in morality and discipline after the Council, which did not authorize universal salvation (it is right there in the Paul VI Mass’ words of institution “for you and for all” and it took 40 years of grinding conflict to drag you Vat2-ers to the facts), which did not set aside unchanging tradition but an “evolving” process of “theological reflection”, which never authorized the setting aside of the traditional Latin Vulgate as the guiding interpretative source of scriptural interpretation, or which never authorized the re-writing and re-defining of the sacraments as has mostly occurred. So, seeing all these things, what are these “new doctines” that must be professed or we are declared by Botolph, Michael PS, and others to be “apostate” (out of a Council which remember, set aside the declaration of anathemas! Ha! a bitter irony!)

  39. I think we always have to be on guard against a certain temptation to turn God’s gracious invitation into something self-righteous in nature. St. Paul had to deal wiht the Judaizers, and something like that phenomenon is always around. It is the natural approach. To act the part of the ‘elder brother’ in the prodigal story is forever a tendency we must stand guard against.

  40. Jon, well put. I have known some Protestants who have been better Christians than most of the Catholics I have ever met. While I consider Protestantism a heresy, I realize that some of it came about because Catholics behaved badly, starting with Borgia. I struggle with my own sins and temptations and try not to judge others – but often at my advancing age, their words and deeds annoy me.

  41. Thanks, Penguins Fan. I don’t think the Roman Catholic/Protestant split should be framed in terms of orthodoxy and heresy, though. When we discussed orthodoxy in anotehr post, I suggested that it was something reached through consensus within the first four centuries. Those were unique circumstances: the church was in a tenuous position and people could gather together and get on the same page. I don’t think that ever happened afterwards.
    FOr me, the real difference with the split concerns justification by faith. I understand that to mean we are ‘made right’ wtih God on the basis of faith alone or beleiving in Christ. Theologians differ about what this (made rigiht) precisely means or entails, of course. But teh general belief is that it is instantaneous and implies sanctificaiton.

  42. Anzlyne wrote, “Orthodoxy is not the product of a consensus of opinion..”

    No, it is not, but the “sensus fidelium,” what has been believed “always, everywhere and by all” is infallible, for the Church, as a whole cannot err in its belief.

    Bl John Henry Newman’s “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine,” where he makes it clear that he uses “consulting” in the sense of “consulting” a watch or a barometer, rather than asking advice, is very helpful.

  43. Kevin raises a good issue. One can believe all of the right things and still be unsaved. How frightening! I recall a remark by St. James: “You believe that there is one God. Good. Even the demons believe this and shudder!” True faith evinces itself in trust and obedience. In fact, that is how we gain assurance that our faith is real. That is how we know we really answered God’s call to salvation. When we see ourselves trusting and obeying God, we know we are his children.

  44. Anzlyne, I don’t think orthodoxy is something that can be literally ‘decided’ by a consensus of opinion. We might better say that it was ‘discovered’ as the church grappled with heresy. Truth won out over falsehood as the church had to survive and define itself over against wrong or less than adequate expression of its belief.

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