20. November, 2013Blog Post 9 comments

A brief letter from Pope Francis to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto has recently been made public wherein the Holy Father praised the archbishop as “the best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.”

In 2005, Archbishop Marchetto authored a book entitled, “Vatican Council II: Counterpoint for Its History” in which he essentially champions what Pope Benedict XVI called the “hermeneutic of continuity.”

While the letter might make for a nice addition to the archbishop’s personal archives, it’s not particularly newsworthy. Based on the way some conservative Catholic commentators are treating it, however, you would think that Pope Francis just signed the Oath Against Modernism.

William Oddie at Catholic Herald, for example, has a piece running in which he proclaims:

With that declaration, with his open support for this book, and with the decision to make the text of his letter public, Pope Francis is making an explicit declaration of his own ecclesial position, which he clearly expects to be noted by all: viz that he supports Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and absolutely rejects the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II”. There can now be no question of writing off this Holy Father as a “liberal Pope”: not unless you are one of the weird eccentrics who attempts to do the same for Benedict XVI himself.

Well then, perhaps I’m tending toward weird eccentricity, but please allow me to clarify:

Pope Francis isn’t to be “written off” as a “liberal pope;” rather, he is to be feared as a modernist.

As for Pope Benedict, while history will judge him most favorably for liberating the traditional liturgy with Summmorum Pontificum, his “hermeneutic of continuity” program, even after a seven year pontificate, failed, and it will continue to fail no matter who is at the helm precisely because it attempts to establish continuity in areas where it simply doesn’t exist (e.g., the Council’s treatment of religious liberty, collegiality and ecumenism).

As such, looking upon Benedict XVI, and likewise Archbishop Marchetto, as quasi-messianic figures relative to the interpretation of Vatican II, is to deny reality, the latter’s claim to fame extending no further than bashing “Bologna School” liberals who see the Council both as a rupture and as a cause for celebration.

So far has the bar been lowered as to what qualifies as a heroic defense of the Faith, that Marchetto is thus treated by some like a crusader in shining armor, but this makes about as much sense as giving the Nobel Prize for Medicine to a researcher whose greatest scientific accomplishment is concluding that cancer is fatal.

In any event, the very notion that this one solitary letter from the pope to a retired prelate somehow trumps the witness of the last eight months is just plain ludicrous.

Far more indicative of Francis’ “ecclesial position,” is the lengthy speech recently delivered by his handpicked advisor Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga at the University of Dallas (about which I have written elsewhere on this blog).

That, however, is a truly bitter pill to swallow, which is why, I presume, otherwise intelligent men feel compelled to consume the sugar coated fairy tale that the pontificate of Pope Francis is eventually going to resemble, in some meaningful measure, that of Pope Benedict.

  1. Martina November 20, 2013 4:05 pm

    Thank´s for this post.
    I read Archbishop Marchetto´s (confusing) book and could in no way see how he should be a danger to the liberal agenda.
    Indicative of Francis’ “ecclesial position” is in my opinion the handpicked German Cardinal Marx who said last year in a so called blasphemy controversial that one can´t insult God at all and said recently among other things that “the Church must repent because the Church caused with pictures like that of purgatory and hell, fear of death” and “God isn´t concerned with enumerating sins, but to assure every human being.of salvation and redemption.”
    In seems that Rome is in accordance with his positions because one could hear no objections.

  2. Martina November 20, 2013 4:15 pm

    BTW, “the school of Bologna got the purple.”
    Pope Benedict XVI. made Luis Antonio Tagle a cardinal.

  3. Fr. Robert Mann SCJ November 20, 2013 5:42 pm

    Dear Louie, I think you hit the nail right on the head by identifying the true source of the disaster that has befallen the Church, the serious elements of discontinuity within Vatican 2 . It is true that no matter who is at the helm unless this gaping wound is treated the Church will continue to bleed to the point of being on life-support. I think we really need a new Syllabus Of Errors to clear this poison out of the body of the Church but this will take a strong Pope, a soldier Pope, who knows how to use his divinely given authority to protect and restore the Bride of Christ.

  4. Edu November 20, 2013 7:46 pm

    Dear Fr Mann,

    Thanks and God bless you for speaking out for the Truth, for Christ Himself. If only more priests spoke out for the Truth with such simplicity and openness.

    How long can the Bride of Christ continue bleeding crucified like Christ without the Church completely being extinguished?

  5. Fr. Robert Mann SCJ November 20, 2013 9:06 pm

    Dear Edu, thanks for your words.

  6. Voice of Catholic Tradition November 20, 2013 10:46 pm

    The Voice of Catholic Tradition (www.voiceofcatholicradio.com) is in complete agreement with you, Louie.

    You can’t sugarcoat modernism. Keep saying it like it is!

  7. Michael Leon November 21, 2013 3:38 am

    Hello Louie. Thank you for clarifying some of these rather confusing issues that come up. The big picture is quite clear, but it is in the details where there is insider Church politics that it gets confusing. It would be much easier if the good guys all wore white hats…

    The sign that I think would mark a true change in direction of the Church would be the re-creation of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. The CDF is a toothless tiger, whereas the Holy Office had real authority. Even a new Syllabus of Errors would mean nothing if it was just a bunch of words with no one to enforce them.

    And by the way, it was Ratzinger himself who played a major role in the abolishing of the Holy Office at Vatican II. November 8, 1963 Cardinal Frings gave a fiery speech condemning the Holy Office at Vatican II. Many Catholic sources believe that this speech was written by Ratzinger who was chief peritus (theological adviser) of Cardinal Frings. More here:

    Now we have no Holy Office, no authority — no one to excommunicate Catholics who do not follow Catholic teaching whether they are politicians or theologians or priests or bishops. Everyone follows their own personal version of what it means to be Catholic without any fear of repercussions. Isn’t that nice?

  8. saluto November 21, 2013 6:36 am

    if only the mostly good guys wore white hats.

    having said that, a po…um:

    Bologna, Bergoglio, Popes of revolution

    he’ll wear a red nose but he won’t wear red shoes
    he loves to be blessed but he hates to bless you
    say’s ‘who am I to judge’? when it comes to ‘us’ gays
    then warns of diablo the very next day

    He speaks like mod, then goes all neo-con
    more pop than madonna, he gets ink in the sun
    talks a mile a minute but can’t say ‘consecrate’
    another x-factor pope, those slaves think he’s great.

    but look on those heads since Paul tossed his crown
    though cradled in the arms of the Church they look down
    on seekers and askers and the lost who would knock
    while the door to the Kingdom of Heaven they’d lock

    if they could. Oh modern Papa, who the hell are ya?
    not restraining your feet from buddha’s on the altar,
    frequenting Christ-denying mosques and synagogues;
    oh ethos of Baron Oystermouth, get thee gone!

    the sheep are scattering, hungry, and used
    oh where is the shepherd of the faithful abused?

    in honour of Long Skirts, the poet laureate of blog-truth.

    Now a professional poem:

    The Devil’s Dictionary

    A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

    A king there was who lost an eye
    In some excess of passion;
    And straight his courtiers all did try
    To follow the new fashion.

    Each dropped one eyelid when before
    The throne he ventured, thinking
    ‘Twould please the king. That monarch swore
    He’d slay them all for winking.

    What should they do? They were not hot
    To hazard such disaster;
    They dared not close an eye — dared not
    See better than their master.

    Seeing them lacrymose and glum,
    A leech consoled the weepers:
    He spread small rags with liquid gum
    And covered half their peepers.

    The court all wore the stuff, the flame
    Of royal anger dying.
    That’s how court-plaster got its name
    Unless I’m greatly lying.

    Naramy Oof

    The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce, 1911

  9. S.Armaticus November 21, 2013 7:08 pm

    “Fake Hustle”, if ever there was one.
    Urban dictionary defines Fake Hustle as:
    ” fake hustle
    Wild enthusiam which is both inappropriate and false. Fake hustle is usually produced in the face of failure, fear, or extreme boredom. It is easily noticeable at speeches by Fidel Castro, Pope Francis and Kim Jong-il and at corporate marketing retreats. Fake hustle also plays a prominent role in sports and theology, where it is used to conceal basic incompetence.”

    OK, so I allowed for some poetic license.
    On second thought, who are you to judge?

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