Catholic Readers Respond To TLM Post
I had so many responses from Catholic readers and others on the Pope Francis/Latin Mass post that I decided to do a separate post. Let's get started.
A Latin massgoing reader sent in this piece published today, in which organizers of a gay Catholic conference received a personal letter from Pope Francis thanking them for sending him a brochure about their conference, and encouraging them in their work. Read the Pope's letter here.
Here is a link to the conference brochure, with its LGBT Catholic all-stars. They include the scholar-priest Bryan Massingale, about whom America magazine wrote earlier this year:
Like the German Martin Luther, Father Massingale is often at odds with official Catholic teaching—he supports the ordination of women and making celibacy optional for Catholic clergy. And, as a gay man, he vocally disagrees with the church’s doctrine on same-sex relations, instead advocating for full inclusion of L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics within the church.
... At Fordham, a Jesuit university, Father Massingale teaches a class on homosexuality and Christian ethics, using biblical texts to challenge church teaching on same-sex relations.
The reader who sent this in comments:
The Pope was sent the program with its lineup of notorious homosexualists -- and of course he loved it.
Well, sure! They weren't praying in Latin. I wonder what Bishop Zanchetta, the Bergoglio protege now convicted in Argentina of sexually abusing seminarians, thinks of it. Pope Francis has now sicced a canon lawyer on the priests who blew the whistle on his boy Zanchetta.
This post and the prior one on Pope Francis are wrongheaded. Your idea that reversals turn an institution's authority into a "creampuff" is important for understanding human institutions, like the Supreme Court, but not a divine institution like the church. By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Court has shattered the idea in "Casey v. Planned Parenthood" that the pro-abortion precedent was an irreversible decision; even if Democrats load the court with liberals and somehow get Dobbs overturned, the Casey myth has been busted.
But that's the way all of all human institutions- there will never be the "stability" you seek in this life. The Catholic church has gone through periods with bad Pope after bad Pope- and yet some of us always have continued responding to Christ's call and fighting for the truth of his message in spite of betrayals, defeats, and humiliations over the centuries. JPII's Poland is a good model for the church in this regard. The kind of fighting and engagement with the culture, in spite of the mockery of the world at first, is precisely how "the West was built" by the Catholic church, as you acknowledge. I do not think an Eastern Orthodox strategy of sticking one's head in the sand or adopting your "Benedict Option" to achieve a kind of "stability" adequately responds to Christ's call. Stability is not the ultimate thing we should want to pursue
That is actually not "an Eastern Orthodox strategy," nor do I think this grumpy Catholic reader understands what the Benedict Option is all about. But whatever. Go with God, fella. There are a lot of your fellow Catholics who are suffering hard right now. They're writing to me. Two letters I received I can't publish, but they will be the people I will be praying for tonight when I go to bed. One is from a TLM devotee who has lost her faith; the other is from an extremely courageous Catholic parish priest who is dealing with evil the likes of which most people cannot imagine. In the face of what I just read from those two readers, the comment I highlighted above is extremely glib.
Moving on, this from the reader who used to post as Manualman:
I’ve increasingly come to the conclusion that God’s primary purpose for the Francis papacy is to obliterate the harmful conflation that occurred between Christ and pope under the saintly JPII and B16 papacies. It’s a welcome blessing and gift when we have a saintly pope, but it’s not an entitlement. Considering it such can be very harmful as indeed way too many people put way too much trust in priests and bishops in recent decades simply because they held the position rather than trusting them because they first put the work into KNOWING them well enough to trust them. Look what that got them (abuse crisis).
As Christians, catholics are called to first place their trust in Christ and to primarily base our knowledge of Christ on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The papacy was never intended to be a guru position, a catholic version of Muhammad or Joseph Smith. He’s not an oracle or a source of new revelation, he’s supposed to be a guardian of what was handed down to him. As such, the teaching authority of the Church must in general must be viewed this way. The magisterium is not primarily effective in responding in precisely the right way right now and making all the right decisions in a timely manner, but rather it is effective by serving as a fence that prevents enthusiastic humans from running off after new ideas the way dogs run after squirrels. You can jump the fence, but you can’t claim you didn’t know you were jumping it, even if your priest and the pope jumped it too.
You’re not wrong in the judgment that Francis & Co will inflict a lot of damage on the faithful while they hold their positions of power. But the purpose of all that pain may be to disabuse us of the notion of pope as guru so that what is left after the carnage regrows without that badly flawed assumption and is better immune to it in the future.
Another reader, maybe not a Catholic one:
Yes, the status of the Church in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, is totally FUBAR. The sheep are left to fend off the wolves by themselves. And the shepherds–rather than standing in front of the sheep protecting them–are instead standing behind the sheep, sodomizing them in the rear. Truly a dire situation, which is how you know God is in charge…
How can I say that? Well, look at how God handled the Coming of the Messiah. He was supposed to come in a flaming chariot, with an army of angels. He should have had cool laser beams shooting out of his eyes like Godzilla, burning all the Romans to a crisp while the Jews stood on the sidelines chanting “Go Yahweh! Go Yahweh!” That’s how I would have done it, if I were God. I’m willing to bet the Jews who’d waited 600 years for the big event would’ve done it that way too.
Instead, what did God do? He sent a Nobody. A homeless, impoverished, manual-laborer from a podunk town, no wife, total loser, who got summarily executed for causing a ruckus in the Synagogue.
Okay, you say: “Well, He had to suffer and die to atone for our sins.” Alright. But THEN, upon rising from the dead, he should have returned to Jerusalem in a blaze of glory, with the cool laser beam eyes, and burnt Pontius Pilate and all the Romans, and Caiaphas and all the Pharisees, to a crisp while his disciples stood on the sidelines chanting “Go Jesus! Go Jesus!” That’s what I would have done. And I’m willing to bet the Twelve would have done it that way too.
Instead, what did Jesus do? He freakin’ left the scene! And he told his disciples–who were in WAY over their heads–to impoverish themselves preaching the “Good News” for the rest of their lives.
What was the Good News? “Hey, you know that guy we were following around that you had killed? Well guess what? He really was the Messiah! He rose from the dead! For real!!! Where is he now? Oh…well…he had to like go somewhere, man…you know, go back to heaven and do some stuff…but he’ll be back! Promise! You believe me, right?”
And the Authorities said: “Listen losers, if y’all don’t stop it with this crazy talk, we’ll do to you what we did to him…”
And the Twelve didn’t shut up, so the Authorities made good on their promise and killed or exiled every last one of them. The End.
Oh, except that wasn’t the End. Somehow this religion–against all reasonable expectations–became the largest religion in the World. So yeah, God’s in charge; it just never, ever looks like it.
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This "maniacal crusade against the Latin mass" is bizarre, it's bizarre because it isn't real. It's a fiction. To my knowledge, most bishops of the Catholic Church have not moved to ban the Latin mass. I know my bishop hasn't, nor have any of the neighboring dioceses. The cases of bishops doing so make headlines precisely because they are outliers. For the vast majority off Catholics, Pope Francis's moto propria will not change their ability to attend the Latin Mass. In fact, it's also bizarre that you are opposed to a Pope devolving some power back to the bishops, but that's neither here nor there. But let's say you're right for a moment, Pope Francis really wants to stomp it out. Why would this even be a problem from a Catholic or Orthodox perspective? The Apostles didn't say the Tridentine mass, nor did they say the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. The liturgy has changed over the millennia and when this happens the old forms are usually suppressed in both the West and the East, this is exactly what happened when Pius V demanded that all rites which couldn't trace their lineage back 300 years were obligated to conform to the Roman rite.
I have to admit, summorum pontificum has put me on unstable theological ground, especially lately. I am from the Arlington Diocese, and attend the TLM. I currently go to an SSPX chapel. I am also a Protestant evangelical convert. I don’t go to the TLM because I prefer a more reverent liturgy or a better teaching or a more vibrant community; I go because the Novus Ordo mass is a mess that has been raped of the liturgical necessities of form and sacrifice to the point of making it questionable as an authentic orthodox liturgy. It has been protestantized. Having come out of that, I absolutely am not interested in ecumenical conciliations on what were enough of necessities to call for my conversion in the first place. And I will not raise my children in the Novus Ordo church. Vat 2 was a mistake. The NO was a mistake. The proof is in the fruit and frankly there is little argument against that. Both need to be abandoned. End trad rant.
While I see my diocesan brothers deeply wounded by the Bishop’s decision, I remain largely unaffected thanks to another Bishop’s prudential actions many years ago. However, the SSPX is clear on papal authority; they, in rejecting collegiality, seem to hold a position that supports in a backwards way the centralized authority the Holy Father calls on now. But only the authority in line with Tradition! This position seems even more tenuous. It seems to me that the problems that have led us to this point are not in a lack of papal authority, but a whittling away of the apostolic authority given to Bishops. When you have the Shepherd of Savannah leading his flock with orders from a bureaucratic organization in Rome, you have a situation far divorced from the historical Church. Collegiality does this. Over centralized papal authority does this. How have the Bishops lost so much of the authority given to them by the very breath of Christ to lead their faithful. What is the answer?
I have to admit, this whole thing has got me seriously considering the East. Not because I reject the Pope (I don’t), not because I want to flee the flaws of the western Church (there are plenty of flaws in the East too, I’m well aware of, having eastern heritage), not because I don’t have access to a liturgy and community I can conscientiously raise my kids in (I do, and will for the foreseeable future thanks to LeFebvre). It’s because, perhaps, the understanding I’ve been handed isn’t quite right, and I cannot abide resting in a place where the truth bell, if you will, is dead ringing. I need to know what the actual Truth is in order to pass it on to my children, because kids don’t hearken to broken bells. It seems to me there is a serious structural problem here that needs to be addressed. I don’t know what the answer is, but the damage being done here is too much to ignore and say “bear the suffering” or “wait it out”. This is wrong. *Why* is the question, and I’m beginning to suspect the answer is not what I have been led to think.
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