Friday, March 15, 2013

If It's True, He's Won Me Over!!

I saw this article this morning. If it's true (and some are telling a different story), my feelings have totally turned from a sort of deep doubt and suspicion and cynicism, even dread, that began when I saw him come out without the mozzetta and then heard about all these showy, seemingly self-conscious, gestures of "humility" being touted...into something like elation. If this is true, then I am exuberant and love this guy now:

So when the appearance of a disgraced cardinal threatened to cast a shadow over his first engagement, Francis I made sure it couldn’t happen again – by banning him from his own church.

Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston in 2002, after being accused of actively covering up for a litany of paedophile priests.’

Despite the scandal which exploded to engulf the entire church, he was given an honorary position at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome.

Though now retired, the cardinal still enjoys a grace and favour apartment in the cathedral complex.

So hearing that the new Pope was offering prayers at the very same church, it seems he couldn’t resist a discreet peek.

But when Pope Francis recognised him, he immediately ordered that Law be removed, according to Italian media reports. He went on to command: ‘He is not to come to this church any more.’

One of the new Pope’s first acts will be to arrange new ‘cloistered’ accommodation for the disgraced cardinal, the Italian daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, reported.
I still have deep reservations and disagreements on the liturgical and aesthetic and "image" question, of course. But as Shawn Tribe said on New Liturgical Movement this morning, though the absolutely abrupt change in style apparent even just in his first public liturgy is disconcerting, the new liturgical movement does not have the Pope as its be-all and end-all. As strong public example from the Pope is nice, but maybe that needs to take a backseat at the highest levels to the questions of cleaning up the Church, administrative reform, personnel overall, spiritual purity, and salvaging things from the scandal and PR-nightmare. His won't be a terribly long pontificate, anyway, and maybe these things needs to be prioritized first (even if sacrificing liturgical excellence for a time).

As long as he doesn't revoke Summorum Pontificum or persecuted traditionalists on the ground, this doesn't change much for any of us personally in our Old Rite venues or private prayer lives (though reconciliation of the SSPX is out of the question now; unless, ironically, he "gets tough" with them and they actually respond to that sort of stern discipline).

But this act with Cardinal Law is really heartening, inspiring even. My heart literally leapt for joy and I got giddy. For so long this blog has expressed exasperation that the previous popes, even though they are absolute monarchs, seemed unwilling to institute real change though all it would take was a word from their mouths or a stroke of their pen, seemed to instead pussyfoot diplomatically around actually punishing anyone or sacking anyone or stepping on any toes, doing all this weird passive-aggressive back-room gradualist game playing. I mean, it's not like they're Presidents who need to worry about getting the support of Congressmen.

On the other hand, Pope Francis, just off the cuff, says, "Get him out of here, and he's not to come back!" and is ordering him into cloister after 10 years of getting away with his criminal negligence! Amazing! If it's true, I really really like him now, and he's totally converted me from my initial skepticism.


Jordan said...

+1 Pope Francis all the way. I could think of even better places to send Bernie Law (like a federal supermax prison), but extradition isn't possible sadly.

Pope Francis's reign will be significant, I am convinced. It'll be super-low-church liturgically. The legislation, though, will be radical. Two predictions:

1) Pope Francis will permit married men to be ordained to the transitional diaconate and the priesthood. The incidence of broken celibacy vows is very high in Central and South America. Pope Francis will merely legalize what has been tacit in his part of the world for centuries.

2) Pope Francis will not only not annul Summorum pontificum and Universae ecclesiae, but liberate Tridentines with a sui juris church. Pope Francis strikes me as a pragmatic man who would be receptive to juridical autonomy for traditionalists.

Anonymous said...

 Initially, you say, you were skeptical about the new and duly appointed Vicar of Christ? Why, I ask? Was it because the character and person of this new and duly appointed Vicar of Christ didn't meet your and the Holy Spirit's judgmental standards with respect to the qualities of character and personhood required of a Vicar of Christ qua Vicar of Christ? Or were you skeptical merely because you felt that he had not yet proven to your satisfaction to possess those qualities that you and the Holy Spirit require of a Vicar of Christ qua Vicar of Christ? Oh do say. I so enjoy reading young people hold forth on matters of faith and faithfulness, docility and obedience to Christ and his Church. In my day, a dark, authoritarian and oppressive day, we were not allowed to presume to be won over. It was expected that being "won over" was our default position. I do hope that the new, duly appointed Vicar of Christ showed kindness to Cardinal Law. For such expressions of kindness in Christ are not incompatible with positions of rigorous condemnation of failure to protect the vulnerable from sexual predators. And besides, its a style thing. 

A Sinner said...

You know I'd support #1, Jordan.

I doubt we'll see a sui juris church for trads though. That makes little sense to me. An ordinariate makes more sense.

The extraordinary form is the Roman Rite, after all. Yes, there can be multiple sui juris churches of a given rite (just look at all the various "Greek-Catholic" jurisdictions which are sui juris of the Byzantine rite) and even with each having its own "recension" or tradition within that family of Rites (Slavic versus Greek for instance)...but the Traditional Roman Rite is so linked to Rome itself and the Pope that I don't see it happening.

Sui juris churches are not the way they seem to handle things in the West. The way they seem to handle them is with an Ordinariate that is like a sui juris church, but without the title and with a little more direct oversight by the Vatican.

They might exempt from local bishops and give us our own Ordinary (something I might register for; though, would you really want to have something like stricter fasting rules be obligatory on you rather than optional?) but I doubt the Vatican would "let go" to the degree of a sui juris church.

I know there are, for example three Catholic Patriarchs of Antioch and All the East (for the Melkites, Maronites, and Syriacs)...but I really don't see there being a "Patriarch of Rome and all the West for the Traditionalists" alongside the Pope. But if the head of the sui juris church was anywhere other than Rome, that would ring contrived. I suppose they could just give him the title of "exarch" or something, but still.

Jordan said...

Your explanation of why we Tridentines should not (and cannot) have a sui juris church is very convincing. However, I am convinced that we need to have a semi-autonomous judicial model at the ready should Pope Francis or a successor abrogate SP.

The ordinariate model also poses problems. The Anglican Ordinariate lacks a major archbishop to oversee the entire ordinariate. I find this to be a critical weakness, as the current model of AO bishops and monsignori lends itself to schism.

Instead, +Burke, +Pell, or +Ranjith (inter alia) would be the Major Archbishop, appointed by His Holiness. He would represent traditional Roman Catholicism in a consistory. The major archbishop would also hold together the various bishops of the ordinariate. In other words, this plan will re-create a licit SSPX but without the Lefebvrist anti-semitic and overall hater nasty aftertaste.

There are also problems with my model. Let's say that the Tridentine synod wishes to update MR 1962. The Pope, as the supreme legislator of the Roman Rite, must promulgate the missal. What if a pope actively blocks the publication of an updated missal? This could get ugly quickly.


There will come a time when a pope will try to abrogate SP. He may do so out of very good intentions, such as to remove and refashion old legislation. At that point trads and allied princes of the Church need to have an alternate model of governance ready to fill the void. SP is not a permanent solution, and no trad should convince himself or herself otherwise.