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Our Lady's E-Newsletter: March 2015
When Sister Lucy first spoke of the coming diabolical disorientation in the Church, as a result of failing to do what Our Lady of Fatima asked, some may have wondered what she meant: how were we to recognize such a thing? What shape might it assume in the way the Church presents itself to the faithful and to the world?
We no longer have to wonder about the form of such a disorientation. It is standing squarely in front of us; and although it manifests in several ways, its most prominent countenance is a two-faced one: that of the dual papacy.
We now have two popes: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The nature of the former is as perplexing as the words and actions of the latter. What is the precise status and power of a pope emeritus and how does his position relate to that of his current successor? (See: “THE TWO POPES AND US. WHAT IS TRULY HAPPENING IN THE CHURCH?”.)
The now pope emeritus said he was resigning from the “active ministry” of his office. What precisely did he relinquish and what did he retain? (See: “The Papal Resignation: Blessing or Catastrophe?”.) And can the papacy be divided into various kinds of ministry that can be shared out between two popes? And if such is the case, what is to bar our having a committee of popes?
And how should one regard the blatant and ongoing repudiation of the policies of the pope emeritus by his successor? We have, quite literally, a dueling magisterium sowing doubt and dissension among the hierarchy and the faithful. It appears as though we are all being asked to choose sides. (See: “Two Momentous Interviews”.)
The magisterium under Francis seems to issue from impromptu interviews with the press aboard the papal plane during which the Pope undermines age-old teaching, foments confusion and pleases the media with statements such as his famous/infamous “who am I to judge?” remark concerning homosexuals who are supposedly “looking for God.” (See: “Another Papal Press Conference, Another Disaster”.)
And hardly a day passes without a gratuitous insult to Catholics attached to some form of tradition in doctrine or discipline, particularly the Latin Mass and the Church’s immemorial teaching concerning marriage, adultery and sodomy. (See: “The Superman Pope?”.) The pope has a list of invectives he has come to rely upon in these repeated denunciations: hypocrites, neo-Pelagians, Pharisees, etc. It seems that to be a loyal, practicing Catholic is somehow prideful, mean and un-Christian, in the Pope’s estimation. Just what is it the Pope wants of us? Even with the best of will, this is hard to discover.
The novelty of the dual papacy has given rise to a veritable cottage industry of canonical studies and opinions. Some regard the situation as dire (see: “‘No more nice words: The resignation is a catastrophe’ ‘Benedict XVI: why have you abandoned us?’”); others attempt to find precedents and juridical provisions to justify what is certainly an unsettling situation. A most learned study was recently published by Stefano Violi of the Theological Faculty of Emilia Romagna. (See: “The Resignation of Benedict XVI Between History, Law and Conscience”.) It concludes that all is well — at least canonically.
But Violi’s study, dense with citations and references, relies mostly on conditions that have been used to justify the resignation of a bishop, not a pope. The two offices are decidedly not the same. There have been previous papal resignations, but they have been attended with great and continuing controversy and cannot be considered established precedent that makes a papal resignation licit and acceptable.
Canon law also cannot be divorced from the mission of the Catholic Church, as though it existed in some abstract realm of legal reasonings. A moment of clarity in Violi’s study arrives when he cites St. Thomas Aquinas as saying that a bishop may resign when his continued governance would harm the “salus animarum” (salvation of the souls) of the faithful. To accept St. Thomas’s opinion in the matter and apply it to the situation of a pope at least gives us an intelligible starting point. But where does it lead us?
Can one argue that the salvation of souls was in jeopardy by the continuance of Benedict’s papacy? It would seem easier rather to argue that the salvation of souls is in jeopardy by the continuance of Francis’ papacy.
And should Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI decide to insert himself into certain areas of Church governance, what might result? Let us assume that Benedict takes up a defense of Summorum Pontificum, his acknowledgement that the Latin Mass was never abrogated or forbidden and that a priest needs no one’s permission, including his bishop’s, to celebrate the ancient rite. (See: “Papal Document Vindicates Adherents of Latin Mass”.)
Let us suppose he takes issue with Pope Francis for his attempt to ignore and even reverse the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. We would have pope versus pope. In fact, it is what we already have, although Benedict has remained silent while Francis undermines and ridicules much of what Benedict accomplished during his papacy, especially in respect to the Liturgy, which is the heartbeat of Catholic life. Recently Pope Francis flatly declared that anyone who returns to the Mass as it existed before the vernacular rite of Pope Paul VI is “wrong.” (See: “Who Goes Back is Wrong?”.) So Pope Francis is saying that Summorum Pontificum allows priests to do what is “wrong”. There is no other interpretation possible. We have pope versus pope.
What does this mean? It can only lead to a positivist approach to Church teaching. That is to say, whatever the current office holder declares becomes absolute, even if it contradicts immemorial teaching. The magisterium then becomes the man, and the deposit of Faith can become a new deposit with each succeeding office holder determining its contents with no constraint from tradition. This is the direction the dual papacy makes possible, aided and abetted by the modernist mindset of many of the Church’s bishops and priests and the antinomian [i.e., refusing to accept established moral laws that apply to everybody] sentiments of Pope Francis.
Canonical arguments aside, the resignation of Pope Benedict wounded the Church. How? The Pope is considered to be the Holy Father, a title most Catholics revere and take to heart. Now, it is natural to love your father and to place in him an absolute trust. You know that your father will always be there for you, so long as breath is in his body. How would we feel were our biological father to tell us that he is resigning his position, citing old age, declining health or some other reason? The prospect strikes us as preposterous. Fathers can’t quit. They can be less than they ought to be; they can fail us in some ways. But they can’t quit.
The idea that the Pope can quit, that some reasonable argument can be made for relinquishing the duty to us and to God that he assumed when he ascended the Chair of Peter and became the Vicar of Christ on Earth, is one from which we recoil. No matter what logical arguments are brought forth, no matter what precedents may be cited, the sense that we have been deserted by someone who pledged himself always to be there for us strikes deep in our heart and psyche. About this, there can be no argument.
That we now have two popes is not a comfort, but a confusion. What this will mean for the Church as time goes on remains to be seen. We may be seeing only the beginning of the diabolical confusion that has been brought upon us by the continuing disobedience to Our Lady of Fatima.
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We must work and pray ever more fervently that the Holy Father and the bishops will heed the requests of Our Lady of Fatima. (See: Petition to Our Holy Father — The Consecration of Russia and Petition to Our Holy Father — The Release of the full Third Secret.)
We must also keep informed. Read the recent “Fatima Perspectives” (view here) and “Fatima News & Views” articles listed below.
The Resignation of Benedict XVI: Between History, Law and Conscience — With the words “Knowing well the gravity of this act, with full liberty, I declare that I renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter”, which in a few seconds traveled around the world, Pope Benedict XVI, on February 11, 2013, before the Cardinals met in consistory, declared his resignation in Latin. The gesture, seemingly unheard of, appears to be in full harmony as much with the history of the Church and its juridical order as with the personal history of the Bishop of Rome or Pope emeritus. But is it in full harmony, in either case?
BOOK REVIEW: Only She Can Help Us! Evil Forces are Driving the World toward War: James Hanisch — This small 120-page book — another easy-to-read, facts-packed, scholarly gem produced by The Fatima Center — is about truth and how those in power manipulate and distort the facts to justify the never ending, unholy wars that plague every generation. The clever manipulation of the spoken and written word, the suppression of information, and bold face lying in order to stoke up “war fever” are clearly presented and well-documented.
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