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Who Cares What Pope Francis Says?

Catholic theologian Adam DeVille says people need to quit getting so worked up [1], for good or for ill, over what the Pope says. Excerpt:

We are drowning under far too much commentary on the papacy, almost all of it adolescent and fatuous. With so many hyperventilating over every word, and people alternately predicting catastrophe or a new springtime for the Catholic Church, it’s time that everyone (especially Catholics) observes the blunt counsel of Thomas Merton. Merton, a monk who died suddenly in 1968, once summed up the wisdom of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism thus: “Shut up and go to your cell!” People running on at the mouth are not able to pray to God in the silence of the heart, which is the only truly important job for everyone.

This excessive focus on the pope is the poisoned fruit of a marriage surely ripe for wholly justifiable divorce: nineteenth-century “Ultramontanism” and the technology-fueled celebrity culture of the twenty-first century that broadcasts every tweet and twerk around the world. Ultramontanism, whose most absurd spokesman in English was that of W.G. Ward, is best summed up in Ward’s famous demand: “I should like a new Papal Bull every morning with myTimes at breakfast.”

Unlike Ward I do not get up in the morning wondering what the pope is thinking or hoping he’ll tell me what to think. I know my responsibilities in life and, however poorly, I get up each day to try and fulfill them without caring a whit for what the pope thinks of them, of me, or of much else besides. But it seems I am in a minority. It is amazing that more than 130 years after his death, Ward walks among us still in myriad blogs, papers, and even pulpits that hang on every papal word and haunt us with their treacly and juvenile reactions.

You know, he’s right about that, isn’t he? If your idea of what a pope does was formed by John Paul II, as was mine, and as was everybody my age or younger, this will seem like an alien concept. As a Russian Orthodox Christian, we look to the Moscow patriarch as our top spiritual leader, but aside from praying for him, and all our bishops, in the liturgy, we never think of him. And that’s a great relief, to be honest. In Orthodoxy, the teachings of the faith are so fixed that you don’t have to worry that a bad patriarch is going to come in and muck things up.

I do want to push back a little bit on Adam’s claim, even though he’s right as a general matter. When I came into the Catholic Church in 1993, it was really surprising to me how little impact Pope John Paul II had on the daily affairs of the local church. This made me sad and frustrated. I honestly believed that what you saw and heard from the Bishop of Rome would be what you saw and heard at the local level. Not true, at least not universally. The local church was often in the hands of liberal bureaucrats. As a Catholic, I came to appreciate John Paul for his evangelical witness, but gradually I understood that what goes on in Rome pretty much stays in Rome, for better and for worse.

It seems to me that there’s a third element to modern papolatry left unmentioned by Adam. Well within living memory, the Catholic Church changed radically, with the Second Vatican Council. It was a decisive break from what came before, and its effects were felt in every corner of the Catholic Church. If you’re, say, 55 years old or younger, you have no cultural memory of the Church before Vatican II. Pope John XXIII called that revolutionary council. I’m not arguing here that Vatican II was a good or a bad thing, but all of us can agree that it dramatically changed the Catholic Church. Because a single pope instigated the council, it’s not hard for me to see why Catholics today get so worried, or excited, by what the Pope says. You never know what revolutionary thing he might do. True, no pope is free to reinterpret dogma and doctrine as he wishes — the media never seem to get that, thinking that each new pope is like a new American president — but that doesn’t mean that the pope can’t have real effects on how the church over which they preside presents those truths.

For example, nearly everybody would agree that the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was an archliberal. I doubt very much that he would have denied, at least publicly, a single point of Catholic doctrine. But he didn’t have to. In the appointments he made as the chief administrator of his archdiocese, he made his priorities known. An orthodox Catholic theologian friend from Rochester, NY, used to tell me chapter and verse about how the extremely liberal Bishop Matthew Clark, who retired only last year, wrecked so much in his diocese. Perhaps the most consequential thing any pope does for the lives of ordinary Catholics is appoint the local bishop. And even then, it seems to me that that bishop would have to go out of his way, either from the Right or the Left, to make a dramatic impact on the local church. The dogs bark, but somehow, the caravan moves on.

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36 Comments To "Who Cares What Pope Francis Says?"

#1 Comment By Fred On October 19, 2013 @ 11:11 am

“Give us back Pope Benedict!”

[2]

#2 Comment By James C. On October 19, 2013 @ 11:19 am

Amen, amen. I would have thought that the one silver lining of the post-conciliar chaos would be the death of this absurd ultramontanism, but it still persists. Papal cheerleading is not the Catholic faith.

#3 Comment By Berne On October 19, 2013 @ 11:26 am

Doctrine is established in the Catholic Church and can be accessed in the *Catholic Catechism*, which is on line. Probably the only time new doctrine will emerge is when new scientific advances, such as cloning, etc., evidence themselves and the Church must take a moral stand on them.

The Pope is treated as a celebrity by the media which is ever hungry for the 24/7 news cycle to be filled. Francis has not changed any doctrine, and he won’t. His personal judgment as to what he says to the press, how he dresses for certain occasions, will be reported endlessly. People will legitimately be interested in how he GOVERNS, e.g., how will he reform the Curia, how will he address the pedophile issue, etc.

#4 Comment By Elijah On October 19, 2013 @ 11:37 am

Paging Kathryn Jean Lopez 🙂

I think DeVille is right to the extent that most people KNOW (or ought to know) the responsibilities of their daily lives. Between the Bible and the lives of the saints etc. it’s pretty darn clear. When you are constantly waiting upon Mr. Authority Figure to tell you what to do/think/say, you are abdicating your free will and your own responsibilities. I like KJL, despite my jibe, but like a lot of commenters, she is constantly breathless from defending or explaining or clarifying every utterance of Pope Francis; it gets to a point of embarassment – if the man can’t communicate clearly, why the deuce is he pope?

Now, I also think you, Rod, have a point. If only Christians of all stripes had paid more attention to JP’s Theology of the Body!

#5 Comment By Shane On October 19, 2013 @ 11:43 am

My concerns are less for the ad intra effects of Francis (though, I think those are present). Those outside the Church, by the words and expressions of Francis, are given cover to carry out an explicitly anti-Catholic agenda.

You’ve noticed this yourself, Rod. Faithful Catholics, I believe, are going to be put between The Rock and a hard place, and soon.

#6 Comment By David J. White On October 19, 2013 @ 11:47 am

Because a single pope instigated the council,

This isn’t really true. Pope John XXIII called the council on (apparently) his own initiative, but there had been a lot brewing below the surface in the Church for several decades. What went on at the council, and its legacy, are also the fruit of a great deal of thinking and writing about the liturgy and the Church during at least the preceding 50 years or so. The documents of Vatican II, and the desire of people to interpret or implement them in a certain way, for good or ill, didn’t just spring fully formed out of Pope John XXIII’s brow one day in 1962.

You know, he’s right about that, isn’t he? If your idea of what a pope does was formed by John Paul II, as was mine, and as was everybody my age or younger, this will seem like an alien concept.

Shedding a lot of this papaltry would certainly be an unalloyed good for the Church. But, as DeVille says, it really is a relatively recent phenomenon. “Relatively recent” in the real historical sense, of course; in American popular culture, nothing more than, say, two years old is considered “relatively recent”.

I remember reading once that one of the early 19th-century popes used to like to walk around Rome, where he was generally unrecognized. (Whether it’s good for a bishop not to be recognized by the people in his diocese is another issue.)

It also occurs to me that in one sense, Catholics have been fortunate over the last century or so: we have had an uninterrupted run of popes who were generally pious men who took their vows and the responsibilities of their office seriously, and who tried to discharge their duties conscientiously in the way that seemed best to them. Whether or not they were always successful, or had the right priorities, is certainly debatable. But we haven’t had any obviously bad or irresponsible men as pope for some time now. But this may have had the unfortunate consequence of allowing people to conflate the Faith with the pope.

I’m not saying we need another Alexander VI. But maybe we need someone who, at the very least, refuses to play the media’s game and stays out of public view. Maybe there was something to the whole “prisoner of the Vatican” thing after all.

[NFR: Thanks for this, David. I should clarify that I don’t think John XXIII is fully responsible for everything about Vatican II, for good or ill, and I know that its ideas didn’t come from nowhere. My point simply is that a pope can summon an ecumenical council, and this can be highly consequential. — RD]

#7 Comment By ck On October 19, 2013 @ 11:53 am

“If you’re, say, 55 years old or younger, you have no cultural memory of the Church before Vatican II.”

And that’s sort of a good thing. But what we youngin Gen Xers do have is a memory of the stale, bland, beach boy, Marty Haugen Masses that have driven so many from the Church. As such, we young folks are “rebelling” with a fresh view of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. This is why I’m not so worried about a liberal resurgence in the American Church because it will be led by and dine on the vine with Babyboomers.

#8 Comment By WorkingClass On October 19, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

I have an acquaintance at work who is a deacon in his parish church. When I asked him if he had any thoughts to share about the new pope I was a bit surprised when he answered; “Popes come and go. It doesn’t affect my responsibilities or my daily life.”

#9 Comment By Charles Cosimano On October 19, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Cardinal Bernardin was an archliberal, he was also an archfiend. When he died we threw a huge party to celebrate. His actions directly hurt someone I seriously loved and for him there is no forgiveness. (Rod,if you dont’ want to post this, I understand. When I’m back at my main puter I’ll write you and tell you the story.)

[NFR: Yes, do tell. I completely agree that he was an archfiend. And not for reasons of church politics. — RD]

#10 Comment By M.Z. On October 19, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

One man’s unchanging is another man’s stasis. Without going into polemics, let’s just say that neither the Orthodox nor the Catholics are particularly relevant in modern man’s quest to address the modern world. In Europe, they are simply disregarded. In America you have similar variants of people in each confession and I dare say that none is traditional in any respect because neither have the cultural memory to have tradition. Each confession walks around claiming to celebrate a tradition unbroken since Christ when their parishes rarely even have a majority of parishioners who extend to the 2nd adult generation. They have a facade of triumphalism but less actual on the ground tradition than your typical Mormon temple. That isn’t culture. At least in America, it would be far more accurate to claim that a parish has offered 5000 consecutive runs of the mass than to claim it is carrying on a tradition.

#11 Comment By Glaivester On October 19, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

True, no pope is free to reinterpret dogma and doctrine as he wishes — the media never seem to get that, thinking that each new pope is like a new American president

I’m not certain that Presidents have that power, either, exactly. The media do seem to have a tendency during elections to assume that the President can dictate his will, but once in office things usually get stunted somewhat – this is partly why people always are disappointed on Presidents’ inability to keep their campaign promises.

#12 Comment By Savia On October 19, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

The commentary on the Pope, reflects for the most part our own inability to move beyond our culture wars and politics, and we constantly look for whose side is winning.

Pope Francis makes the establishment on both sides uncomfortable because he cannot be boxed.

He’s not a liberal no matter how much the liberals want him to be one.

He is not a conservative, as Ann Coutler has rightly pointed out.

Memo to the media: The church is not bound by your culture wars or politics.

#13 Comment By sk On October 19, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

“For example, nearly everybody would agree that the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago was an archliberal. I doubt very much that he would have denied, at least publicly, a single point of Catholic doctrine. But he didn’t have to. In the appointments he made as the chief administrator of his archdiocese, he made his priorities known. An orthodox Catholic theologian friend from Rochester, NY, used to tell me chapter and verse about how the extremely liberal Bishop Matthew Clark, who retired only last year, wrecked so much in his diocese. Perhaps the most consequential thing any pope does for the lives of ordinary Catholics is appoint the local bishop. And even then, it seems to me that that bishop would have to go out of his way, either from the Right or the Left, to make a dramatic impact on the local church.”

I don’t understand this paragraph. You seem to conclude that bishops (and the Pope) don’t really have much influence on the local parish, yet the entire paragraph outlines how two bishops (in Chicago and Rochester) effectively wrecked local parishes.

[NFR: No, the local bishop has significant influence, whether or not he chooses to use it. What the Pope does really doesn’t filter down into most local parishes, except insofar as the Pope chooses the bishop (which really means the Pope in ordinary cases signs off on whoever the system recommends). — RD]

#14 Comment By Savia On October 19, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

M.Z.

The tradition spoken of here is not the small t, as in the clothes you wear or the food you eat, the language you speak etc.

Both Catholicism and Orthodoxy are not bound by the right/left divide that characterizes so much of Protestanism. Perhaps because they are transcendent.

There’s a saying. The church is ever ancient, ever new.

#15 Comment By Chris 1 On October 19, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

I was a pre-and post-Vatican II Catholic, now Orthodox.

Pre-Vatican II Catholicism was everything Orthodox Christianity teaches is wrong with Rome. The RCC was autocratic, arrogant, and smug. It was an attitude that “trickled down” to priests and sisters and a many in the laity.

Vatican II came along and promulgated teachings that are actually more Orthodox (large O) than a number of the Councils that came before.

Being thoroughly Western, the RCC’s implementation of those teachings was more Protestant than Orthodox.

Post-Vatican II Catholicism, therefore, became much that Orthodox Christians find wrong with Protestantism…

A large part of the problem that the RCC had implementing the teachings of Vatican II was sheer ignorance…an ignorance that was not the bastion of liberals or conservatives.

Understanding the Church as a political institution primarily, that is as a world of liberals vs. conservatives (regardless of which side you think is “good” and which is “bad”) is tempting to those who don’t have the Church in their bones. For those who do…liberal and conservative are irrelevant.

Adam is correct in pointing out that holiness is what actually matters, not politics. Those of us who’ve been around have experienced great goodness in both liberals and conservatives, and great evil in both as well. And that’s just among the hierarchy…

#16 Comment By Anderson On October 19, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

“stale, bland, beach boy, Marty Haugen Masses that have driven so many from the Church”

I’m with ya on the adjectives – the Lutherans think he is the cat’s meow, sorry to say – but goodness, how egotistical people must be if they think that a liturgy they don’t like is a deal-breaker between them and the church.

#17 Comment By Kosovo je Srbija On October 19, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

“As a Russian Orthodox Christian, we look to the Moscow patriarch as our top spiritual leader, but aside from praying for him, and all our bishops, in the liturgy, we never think of him.”

This is more a reflection of the spiritual immaturity of Orthodoxy in America than anything else. In traditional Orthodox societies, what a patriarch (or bishop) says and does has always been of great importance to his flock. (Maybe not in the same way as the Pope?) A Georgian friend once told me, “Whatever our Patriarch says, we do it.” (Patriarch Ilia is regarded as a living saint in Georgia, among other places.) It is hard for this kind of mentality to take root in democratically minded America, where everyone “has the right” and other such nonsense.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 19, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

I was going to say that Adam De Ville was channeling Charles Cosimano, in fact, everybody seems to agree with Charles Cosimano about the significance of the Pope, but then, Charles Cosimano said something different. He doesn’t even sound like Charles Cosimano. He’s taking something SERIOUSLY here.

#19 Comment By Devinicus On October 19, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

I don’t want to criticize DeVille too strongly here. After all, we are talking about an 800-word op-ed, not a theological treatise. That being said, DeVille could give a little more thought as to why so many people pay so much attention to Popes today.

I think the answer lies in Emile Perreau-Saussine’s Catholicism and Democracy: An Essay in the History of Political Thought. There he argues that ultramontanism was the product of the secularization of political authority in 19th century formerly Catholic parts of Europe. As John Vella says in Crisis Magazine, “Church leaders came to see the defense of the confessional state by legitimist ultramontanes as a political dead end but saw the elevation of the papacy by spiritual ultramontanes as an effective defense of Catholic liberties against attacks by anti-clerical liberals.”

When kings were Catholic, there was little need for papal authority. When kings stopped being Catholic, Presidents stopped being Catholic, and even more so when electorates stopped being Catholic, the need for a central spiritual authority in the Church rises if the Church is to be the Church and not simply a sect.

In the current political environment in the West, “just ignore the Pope” is an eminently Protestant thing to say in so much as it means “just ignore authority” or “be your own authority” or “just me and Jesus, man”. Ironically, the less Catholic the society one finds oneself in, the more important is the papacy.

#20 Comment By B.E. Ward On October 19, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

I believe there’s so much written about Pope Francis’ comments simply because it’s so easy to have one’s every thought published (or at least made public) these days.

There’s a new plethora of voices.. and other voices respond to those voices.. and it just keeps going and going.

Look how things work here. The Pope says something, someone reacts online, Rod posts the reaction and shares his own, then 100+ comments ensue. Some other blogger responds to Rod responding to someone responding to the Pope and the cycle starts anew. It’s the new public square.

Now we’ve got Rod reacting to someone saying that others are saying too much. It is slightly mind-boggling, but if one finds it distasteful there are easy ways to avoid much of the hullabaloo. Just limit the number of news sources and blogs you read and, well, stay away from the comboxes most of the time.

#21 Comment By kag1982 On October 19, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

I don’t get all the hate on Bernadin. I have personal reason to like him. I live in the Archdiocese of Chicago and was being bullied in sixth grade by good Catholic kids in a parochial school. My parents were told that I should just learn to toughen up and that it was all my fault. And this was really awful harassment that just makes me thankful the Internet didn’t exist. At the end of the year, I got a weak apology all of a sudden and the harassment stopped.

Years later I learned that my father had gotten so fed up with the bullying that he called the Archdiocese office. He had worked on some projects with the Archdiocese and met Bernadin on a few occasions. Apparently, the Archdiocese had called up the school about the situation. This was mor than the teachers and school did.. All those wonderful conservative Catholics.

#22 Comment By dominic1955 On October 19, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

The best thing that could happen for Catholicism today would be to get rid of the silly papal rockstar cult of personality. Popes do come and go-I don’t get worked up. He isn’t God.

I wouldn’t be suprised if popes back in the day could walk around Rome and not be recognized. Their face was on the coin of the realm, but a coinage portrait and the real life visage can be two different things. That really should (kinda) be the way it should be. He shouldn’t be totally unknown to the world (and they never are) but there is no need for them to be rockstars.

#23 Comment By chris c. On October 19, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

Rod, you might not have thought much about His Holiness Pope John Paul 2d, but others did, evidently the KGB and Bulgarian intelligence for example, as demonstrated by their plot to kill him.
Because of the love for him in Poland and elsewhere in Catholic Eastern Europe, Blessed John Paul 2d was rightly seen as a threat to communist rule. He encouraged Catholics under brutal communist to practice their faith. That is a challenge that no dictator could tolerate. He inspired and encouraged the Solidarity labor movement, another great threat to communist dictatorial rule.
The Pope is universal leader. Just because he may or may not be widely heeded here in the U.S. hardly proves your point. Despite what we may think, life does not revolve around us.
And no disrespect intended, but your comparison with your Moscow Patriarch is off the mark. Catholic social teaching is intended to be universal. It covers all areas of life. The Orthodox simply don’t posses a universal teaching office comparable to that of the Pope. Therefore it is not greatly surprising that you do not give your Patriarch much thought from day to day.

[NFR: Re-read what I wrote. I thought about Pope JP2 a lot, both as a personal guide whom I loved and because he was in the news so much. It was startling to me, though, how few people in the pews paid close attention to him. That was normal; I was abnormal. The point is, what got said in Rome did not usually filter down to the parish level in the US, which was really surprising to me as a Catholic convert. — RD]

#24 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 19, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

When kings were Catholic, there was little need for papal authority.

Explain that to Holy Roman Emperor Henry II.

Also to John Lackland of England.

Not to mention Henry VIII.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 20, 2013 @ 8:41 am

Chris C, Mehmet Ali Agca was dispatched by Iranian intelligence, not by the KGB. JP II discovered the real story over the years, but the rank speculation that the assassination attempt was a “communist plot” continues to run around like any urban legend.

[NFR: Wait, not Bulgarian? I thought it was the Bulgarian intelligence services. — RD]

#26 Comment By Lambic Head On October 20, 2013 @ 10:17 am

“As a Russian Orthodox Christian, we look to the Moscow patriarch as our top spiritual leader.”

In practice this is sadly true, which explains the meddling of the Moscow Patriarchy in various post-Soviet states that the Kremlin would like back in the fold, but shouldn’t you guys be far enough away from the political affairs of the motherland to recognize that it’s Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew you should be looking to?

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 20, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

[NFR: Wait, not Bulgarian? I thought it was the Bulgarian intelligence services. — RD]

Or maybe it was little green men from Mars. Italian courts tried some Bulgarians, and failed to convict them, for lack of evidence. It was a mere suspicion, and of course their chief witness, Agca himself, after being unable to confirm relevant details, had a breakdown on the stand and declared himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Books have been written establishing it was the Bulgarians — mostly citing evidence from which the original author had concluded that Agca was working for the Grey Wolves, a right-wing Turkish nationalist organization. Agca himself eventually told JP2 that it was the Iranians, although the Vatican has officially denied that, and he has confessed to a variety of possible handlers at various times during the years he was in custody.

So nobody really knows for sure, but the KGB were ruthless, not stupid, and the Bulgarians wouldn’t have done anything without KGB approval in those days. Agca had been in Iran after escaping from a Turkish prison, before traipsing through Bulgaria, and Germany, on his way to Rome. Maybe it was the Germans?

[NFR: For the record, you said it was the Iranians. — RD]

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 20, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

Yes, I said it was the Iranians, because I remembered reading a detailed article about Agca’s confessions to JP 2 that it was the Iranians, tracing the indoctrination he was given in Iran about the menace of the “Pope Commander.” When you asked about the Bulgarians, I remembered the trial, and the not guilty verdict, and I was pretty sure that was discredited, but I went to look up what was available. On the basis of, let’s see what all is in print, there are people who managed to get a book published who said all kinds of things.

And for the record, chris said it WAS the KGB and the Bulgarians as established fact, which it isn’t.

#29 Comment By CatherineNY On October 21, 2013 @ 6:28 am

Why was Cardinal Bernardin an archfiend? I’m not saying he wasn’t, I’m just curious.

[NFR: He was the epitome of the liberal, postconciliar cardinal, which made him a villain to orthodox Catholics. Plus, he is believed to have been pretty much the Don Corleone of the Lavender Mafia. — RD]

#30 Comment By mrscracker On October 21, 2013 @ 9:33 am

ck says:

October 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

“If you’re, say, 55 years old or younger, you have no cultural memory of the Church before Vatican II.”

“And that’s sort of a good thing. But what we youngin Gen Xers do have is a memory of the stale, bland, beach boy, Marty Haugen Masses that have driven so many from the Church.”
********************************************
If spiritually tepid music can drive one from
the Faith & Sacraments, it’s more a lack of formation in the Mass-goer.But I certainly hear you regarding music & liturgy.In my humble opinion, all hymns written in the 1970’s till present should be put on a 50 year rest.(Especially those by Marty Haugen.)
I’ve warned my children that if any of those awful tunes are sung at my funeral & I will come back to haunt them.

#31 Comment By Michael Casey On October 21, 2013 @ 10:02 am

In the decade of so before Francis the Church (at least in terms of PR and public opinion) was at its lowest point since Luther. What looked like a sclerotic, angry retrograde organization rife with misogynists and pedophiles, is suddenly being examined with interest, possibly interest even in joining, by millions, many of them young. How is this a bad thing?
At least in America, the Church was on life support. Francis has pumped new life into the Church, not by media manipulation (although he’s good at that, as was JP II) but by getting at the roots of what made it a Church in the first place. Dogma is fine, but dogma is built entirely on the bedrock truth of Christ and the early Church: love God and love your neighbor. Without this basis, the dogma is useless and hollow, even cruel in some spots. With it, all the rules and dogma glow like spring morning dew. This is what Francis is trying to do, reconnect at the root.

#32 Comment By mrscracker On October 21, 2013 @ 10:11 am

Michael Casey ,
Agreed.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 21, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

[NFR: He was the epitome of the liberal, postconciliar cardinal, which made him a villain to orthodox Catholics. Plus, he is believed to have been pretty much the Don Corleone of the Lavender Mafia. — RD]

Oh, now you’ve opened the door. The possibility that he was the epitome of the liberal, postconciliar cardinal, is of interest only to that mutual admiration society of curmudgeons who have a knee-jerk reflex against the world since Vatican II. In which case, who cares? That hardly qualifies someone as an arch-fiend.

Now Don Corleone… that’s not a mere add-on, that’s a whole different ball game. Maybe he was. But covering up for priestly misdemeanors and felonies is as old as the hierarchical church. The middle ages was rife with it. So was the preconciliar church. For most of its history, the church has claimed and believed that the civil authority may not touch the priest, only the church authorities may do so.

#34 Comment By Chris 1 On October 22, 2013 @ 12:38 am

To be clear about one thing: People care what the Pope says because of Vatican I, where the Pope was declared to have universal jurisdiction over all Christendom and where Pope was made infallible.

Yes, yes, I know all the fine points.

Vatican I’s raising of the Papal Claims to formal doctrines of the Church seems a far greater problem for the Roman Catholic Church than anything in Vatican II, which was an attempt to roll back part of Vatican I’s overreach.

Then again, in 1864 nothing was so important as declaring the Pope to be infallible, so that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, declared in 1854, could be rendered binding on Catholics.

#35 Comment By Rylan Gibvens On July 28, 2014 @ 11:11 am

I know this was written almost a year ago, but it’s an excellent article. I agree with it wholly.

The only thing not covered is the affect that a Pope, as a personality, can have on individuals. Somewhat surprising since the author alludes to the effect that Pope JPII had on him…which apparently helped bring him to Roman Catholicism. So, while the Pope doesn’t have that much effect on Church Doctrine or even Theology they can have a large effect in bringing people to or moving people away from the Church’s teachings.

#36 Comment By dave On September 24, 2015 @ 2:53 am

I read a comment in here that Lutherans like the Pope. I’m Lutheran and the Pope has absolutely no sway in a Lutherans daily life. Certainly not mine. Plus I must chuckle that the far left “like” the Pope because he speaks out on poverty. Well he is against abortion but those on the left oh so conveniently ignore that stance. Just like the far right who pick and choose what parts of the bible they quote.
The catholic church progressive? Oh PUH-LEASE! What is the churches stance on abortion and Gay Marriage? Any female priests yet? Still in the 1920’s on birth control???
To answer the Popes questions on world poverty, I’m just curios ,How much money does the Vatican sit on? Anyone with a modicum of WW2 history knows what the church did in Europe.
How many US Catholics actually live their lives in accordance to the churches wishes? I’d dare say under 5%…
Please all you catholics keep giving money to your church. The church could have battled poverty for ever yet IMHO do very little to help the poor.