Something that has been bothering me long before the current Pontificate is what I call Loose Leaf Binder Catholicism. This form of Catholicism consists of giving ready assent to everything that the current Pope says or does even if it conflicts with traditional teaching. If such is pointed out, advocates of Loose Leaf Binder Catholicism usually pretend that there is no change. Down the memory hole could be a chant for Loose Leaf Binder Catholicism as its acolytes feign amnesia to the fact that the Church has a 2000 year history and a magisterium that consists of more than the thoughts of the current Pope. Catholicism prior to the present does not seem to matter to the adherents of Loose Leaf Binder Catholicism. When a new Pope with new views takes office and has positions that conflict with his immediate predecessor, Loose Leaf Binder Catholics simply tear out the old pages of Loose Leaf Binder Catholic teaching and insert new pages, all the while pretending that nothing has changed. Father John Hunwicke gives a suitable response to Loose Leaf Binder Catholicism at his blog:
Some Cardinal called Wuerl has said “There are always people who are unhappy about what is going on in the Church, but the touchstone of authentic Catholicism is adherence to the teaching of the Pope”. Sounds good; sounds obvious. But ….
Note that he says, not popes, but pope. So he must mean just the Pope, the present Pope, the pope-for-the-time-being. And note that he can’t just mean “the ex cathedra teaching of the Pope”, because in that case his words would mean nothing since Bergoglio has defined nothing and it is questionable, to put it mildly, whether Evangelii gaudium and Laudato si are in any sense Magisterial.
So, when a pontificate follows a pontificate, this strange man clears his mind of the teaching of all the previous popes (except possibly when ex cathedra), so as to have a tabula rasa upon which to inscribe whatever idiosyncrasies and obiter opinions the new pope turns out to possess. And this is what he is recommending to the rest of us. Have I got that right?
I find myself wondering how these rabid ultra-extreme fundamentalist papalists imagine their pronouncements must sound to non-Catholics. Do they seriously imagine that Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox are likely to be attracted to the idea of a Papacy in which every whimsy of the current occupant of the See of S Peter has to be swallowed without question, otherwise one has abandoned the ‘touchstone’ of ‘authentic’ doctrine? Furthermore: one of the Anglophone circuli reported that ‘one bishop’ claimed that “the pope can, in effect, twist the hands of God”. Oh yeah? Have you tried that crazy idea out on your local Presbyterians and Baptists? And are you absolutely sure you would still believe it yourself if some future ultra-regressive pope started ‘binding’ all sorts of things you yourself didn’t think ought to be bound?
Do these dubious papal extremists have no respect for the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Creeds, the Councils, the Tradition, the (plural) Popes? Are they completely indifferent to our partners in ecumenical dialogue?
Would it be cynical to suspect that the Wuerl Dogma is a convenient and plausible mantra to shout from the rooftops so as to shut other people up when one agrees with a pope, but a principle one quietly buries if one doesn’t?
Go here to read the comments. As for myself, my Catholicism comes neither with loose leaf binders nor memory holes.