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A Dialogue Between Two Monks Concerning the Papacy

Image: Max Barascudts (1869-1927) — In the Scriptorium

Br. Barsanuphius: Good morning, Brother! To my surprise, the guest house is completely ready for today’s arrivals, and we have some time before the next office. Are you free for a conversation? We could pick up where we left off.

Br. Romuald: That would be an excellent thing to do. Let’s sit over here by the herb garden.

Br. Barsanuphius: My problem comes down to the relationship between the “conservative” instinct of submitting oneself to the Pope, and the “traditionalist” instinct of taking Tradition as a safe guide and making a yardstick of it. I see, on the one hand, that the instinct of revering the Pope and going along with his teaching is healthy, but on other hand, I know enough Church history to see that this is not absolutely foolproof. And besides, what is meant by “the Pope’s teaching” is far from simple, since it is not a uniform body of teaching but comes in various forms and degrees of authority.

Br. Romuald: It’s so like you to get right to the heart of the matter!

Br. Barsanuphius: For some people, the idea of taking Tradition as a guide sets up an intellectual construct that can never be determinate, thus encouraging an almost Protestant spirit of “private judgment.”

Br. Romuald: But as other people see it, the approach of submitting oneself to the Pope can go wrong if it places too much weight, in an ultramontanist spirit, on the dicta et facta, the words and actions, of the reigning pontiff.

Br. Barsanuphius: That’s the contrast in a nutshell.

Br. Romuald: I think, however, that both of these positions are extremes. There is a genuine via media that holds to the real primacy of the Pope as well as to the normative standing of the Tradition he is called to serve—and which he can betray in one way or another.

Br. Barsanuphius: Yes, exactly! I used to think that a Pope could never say or do anything wrong at all, as if it’s his job to be a sort of Delphic oracle who always gives an inspired answer, or a God-king whom we all venerate—“the Great Leader” in an almost Communist or fascist way.

Br. Romuald: You were suffering from a common illusion among Catholics. Most do not grasp well the meaning and the role of the papacy.

Br. Barsanuphius: Right. It was a watershed moment for me when I found no less than Joseph Ratzinger saying in The Spirit of the Liturgy—let me see, I have this book in my satchel… Ah yes, here it is.

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not “manufactured” by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. . . . The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.

Br. Romuald: A fine passage indeed, and indicative of a deep trend in his thinking. For if I’m not mistaken, he reiterated this position as Pope in 2005.

Br. Barsanuphius: You’re right about that. I have it printed on a sheet of paper tucked into this book, because it seemed so important to me:

The power that Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors is, in an absolute sense, a mandate to serve. The power of teaching in the Church involves a commitment to the service of obedience to the faith. The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism. … The Pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage. Thus, his power is not being above the Word of God, but at the service of it. It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.

Br. Romuald: Well, then, we seem to be in agreement about the actual role of the Pope and the limitations of his office. But I recall that yesterday you were struggling with the problem of John Henry Newman’s conversion and how he switched his allegiance, in a way, from an abstract construct called “Tradition” to a concrete measure called “Papacy.”

Br. Barsanuphius: Yes. In 1840, Newman believed that “Tradition = Catholicism,” while in 1845 he had come to believe that “Pope = Catholicism.” Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, and all that good stuff.

Br. Romuald: In light of the foregoing quotations from Ratzinger, however, wouldn’t we have to maintain that the difference between Newman the Anglican and Newman the Catholic is not this at all, but rather, that by 1845 he had come to see that the Pope is an integral and central part of the picture, as the one who can determine and define—and indeed has historically determined and defined—what is and is not according to Tradition, or what is or is not taught in Scripture?

Br. Barsanuphius: Of course. The absence of this magisterial power in Protestantism explains why it exists in over 30,000 denominations. Someone has to be able to say, when push comes to shove, what is or is not taught by Scripture and Tradition.

Br. Romuald: Surely, the next step is to say that the Pope cannot in any way add to or subtract from the dual font of Revelation, namely, Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium interprets Revelation; it does not originate or modify it. The Magisterium is decisively secondary to it. This is pure Catholicism, without a whiff of 1840s Anglicanism. One may and must view the head of the Church on earth as a visible sign and source of communion within the Church, without viewing his authority as absolute over doctrine and discipline.

Br. Barsanuphius: How could I disagree? This seems like pure common sense to me. But how do we know when a Pope is acting according to his office and when he might be departing from it? If he is ultra vires, outside the bounds—can we ever know that?

Br. Romuald: Yes, I think we have to be able to do that. At least something of the content of Revelation can be known by faithful Catholics with such certitude that if—perhaps per impossibile, if you wish—a Pope were to contradict it, they could know he was in error and refuse to follow the error, in spite of its papal patronage.

Br. Barsanuphius: If one were to deny that the orthodox faith could be known at all apart from the teaching of the current incumbent of the papacy, how would that be any different from epistemological skepticism about the knowability, objectivity, constancy, and universality of the Catholic Faith?

Br. Romuald: Indeed—we would not even be able to recognize the continuity of the Faith over time, since whatever continuity showed up in the historical record would be merely the result of a lot of Popes who happened to will the same thing. It would not be a guarantee that what they adhered to was the truth and that they would never adhere to anything different.

Br. Barsanuphius: Such an approach would negate the age-old rule of St. Vincent of Lérins, who taught that we must adhere to doctrines believed “always, everywhere, and by everyone.”

Br. Romuald: Exactly! My dear brother, you surely see by now that we cannot sidestep or wave away the need for rational criteria to determine how and when to obey the Pope or embrace his statements, precisely in order to remain faithful ourselves to the immutable truth of the Faith. By this, I mean that no matter how much our insights into God may develop over time, they will never contradict that which has been solemnly or consistently taught before.

Br. Barsanuphius: As you were explaining to me last week, this is the reason why John of St. Thomas, Cajetan, Bellarmine, Melchior Cano, and other great theologians of the past wrote extensively on these matters, distingushing carefully between papal statements or judgments that must be accepted, and those that might be questioned or, in dire cases, must be rejected.

Br. Romuald: Perhaps we should not speak so hypothetically. Many things said and done by more recent Popes are extremely hard to reconcile with the manifest teaching of earlier councils and Popes and even Sacred Scripture; it’s downright scandalous at times. Simply compare the encyclical letter Casti Connubii to the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia!

Br. Barsanuphius: Ah, brother, you have raised a painful subject. For quite some time, to be honest, I’ve avoided following Vatican news, so as not to lose heart or become angry or depressed or distracted.

Br. Romuald: I totally sympathize with the desire not to know how bad things have become, but we must recognize that the issues at stake—such as the proposal that we should invite to Holy Communion those who are living objectively in a state of adultery!—concern the very essence of our Faith. We cannot ignore them, wishing they would go away.

Br. Barsanuphius: Besides, people will be asking us what our opinion is. As men of religion, we have a duty to be well-informed and well-educated—

Br. Romuald: —and prepared for those awkward moments after Mass or in the gift shop.

Br. Barsanuphius: You can say that again! A few weeks ago, when I was running the shop, a man came in and started going on about how the situation in the Church today was so bad that it was surely a sign that we did not have a legitimate Pope. I tried to reason with him about the difference between not having a Pope at all and having a bad Pope. If you’ve got a bad Pope, you can explain the desperate situation in the Church without much difficulty. In this case, we apply Ockham’s razor.

Br. Romuald: Did you convince him?

Br. Barsanuphius: I think so. I told him that our situation would never get any better unless he was praying every day for the Pope and the Church—and made sure to protect himself against evil spirits. After friendly banter and a cup of tea, he bought a bunch of St. Benedict medals, a few rosaries, and a small booklet with Prime and Compline, and left in good spirits.

Br. Romuald: Good to hear. What a blessing that gift shop is.

Br. Barsanuphius: But the conversation made me melancholy. In fact, it’s what prompted our conversation yesterday about the traditionalists’ insistence on the fixed and settled teaching of the Church in the past—for example, the decrees, canons, and anathemas of the Council of Trent—as a permanent measure of the present. It made me wonder if I am perhaps too attached to a certain vision of the past…

Br. Romuald: We can all feel that way at times. Yet the past is given to us as the foundation on which the present is built, and we do not change the foundation of a building unless we want it to fall down.

Br. Barsanuphius: A sign that we are not crazy is the vast number of priests, bishops, and even cardinals who are shocked and sickened by what they see happening in Rome. This is not at all about distrust of the Pope, rejection of the papacy, or the exaltation of private judgment. It is about distrust of those who are damaging the Church and the Faith their predecessors taught.

Br. Romuald: Positively, it is about holding fast to the teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels about marriage and divorce—teaching clearly stated and determined past all doubt by the Magisterium of the Church, including most recently (and repeatedly) by St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Br. Barsanuphius: Amen to that. What is the Pope for, if not to guard and proclaim the Deposit of Faith, integral and unadulerated?

Br. Romuald: And to think this used to be taken for granted! Newman calls the pope a remora, “a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation,” as the genial Fr. Hunwicke puts it. By his very office he is to be stubbornly conservative, doctrinally unoriginal, utterly traditional.

Br. Barsanuphius: That is what the Roman Church was famous for in the first millennium of Christianity—her Roman Canon is the most ancient and unchanged of all anaphoras—and she largely retained that role in the second millennium as well.

Br. Romuald: Yes, the Roman Church was so resistant to change that it did not even recite the Creed during Mass for many centuries, since that was not a part of the existing liturgy, and finally gave in when everyone else was using it elsewhere.

Br. Barsanuphius: We sure could have used some of that spirit of resistance to change in the sixties and seventies, when secular culture had more or less made a religion out of evolution!

Br. Romuald: You can say that again.

Br. Barsanuphius: Clearly, what we need is a reforming Pope, a man like St. Gregory VII, St. Pius V, or St. Pius X, one who can come in and be that stopper against innovation—with, I might as well say it, a pair of strong arms to sweep out the Augean stables.

Br. Romuald: What’s strange beyond belief is that there are people out there who would think we are disloyal Catholics for saying such things. How little they know of loyalty or Catholicism!

Br. Barsanuphius: In any case, by God’s grace I will never abandon Our Lord or the See of Peter or the Catholic Faith that has been handed down to each generation in the official doctrine of the Church. As the first pope said: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Br. Romuald: Well said.… even if we may be legitimately perplexed and grieved by the latest successor of Peter, to whom Our Lord, were He still walking the paths of this earth, would have plenty of reason to utter the same words as he did to the first Pope: “Get behind me, Satan: you are thinking the thoughts of men, and not the thoughts of God.”

Br. Barsanuphius: “The thoughts of men, and not the thoughts of God…” That reminds me. Did you hear the news about the Acta Apostolicae Sedis?

Br. Romuald: Alas, yes. What do you make of it?

Br. Barsanuphius: As far as what the texts say, it’s nothing new. Astute observers all along have known that sacramental access for Catholics living in adultery is what both Synods as well as Amoris Laetitia have always been angling towards. Conservatives who kept doing hermeneutical somersaults to prove that “nothing has changed” now have enough egg on their face for a lifetime supply of omelettes. The defenders of continuity have just been unceremoniously dumped, while the agents of revolution have received the signal: “full steam ahead.”

Br. Romuald: But it raises the stakes, doesn’t it, invoking “magisterial authority” and sticking it in the Acta and so forth?

Br. Barsanuphius: It seems to be a favorite move nowadays to think that slapping the label “magisterial” onto packages will suddenly make the contents edible or even healthy. No, that depends on the ingredients, not on the label. Weren’t you paying attention when we discussed this just a minute ago?

Br. Romuald: But it seems that including something in the Acta is a big deal. I remember reading in a neoscholastic manual from the fifties a statement that “whatever appears in the acts of the Holy See may be assumed to be binding teaching, since there is no more official manner in which to publish documents intended to bind the faithful with a religious submission of will and intellect.”

Br. Barsanuphius: For one thing, you are forgetting your Lumen Gentium.

Br. Romuald: There are some things I have never tried very hard to remember.

Br. Barsanuphius: Come now, this document is your friend—on this point, at least. It says that one must gauge authoritative statements by many criteria: the type of document in question, the repetition of a doctrine, the clear intention to define or condemn. Although published in the Acta, this recent thing is just a letter to a small group of bishops, not even an episcopal conference; it enunciates a novelty rather than repeating what has always been taught; and it is not couched in language that could possibly vie with Canon 915, which expresses either dominical teaching or a conclusion logically derived from dominical teaching.

Br. Romuald: In short, it changes nothing in the Church’s doctrine or discipline.

Br. Barsanuphius: Nor could it, for that matter. It’s a bit like saying “There are special circumstances in which it might be appropriate to square a circle.” But a circle can never be squared. Therefore the special circumstances will never arise.

Br. Romuald: Well said.

Br. Barsanuphius: Getting back to your manual, let us be frank: the neoscholastic manuals have their strengths, but a sane, moderate account of papal authority is not one of them. Remember how Newman complained about the likely results of the proclamation of the dogma of infallibility at Vatican I?

Br. Romuald: He predicted that there would be a dangerous veneration and adulation of the person and opinions of the reigning pope, contrary to the limited doctrine of infallibility defined at that council.

Br. Barsanuphius: Perhaps what we are going through today is the messy manner in which the problems Newman diagnosed will finally be sifted through and brought to clarity. For there has been over a century of papal maximalism and positivism that sits uneasily with most of Catholic tradition, and we can see it pretty much self-destructing at this time.

Br. Romuald: In other words, we have had unreasonable expectations about the papacy, and now the Lord is putting us to the ultimate test, to see whether we are mature enough in our faith to deal with it.

Br. Barsanuphius: To put it more positively: this pontificate will force theologians to make more distinctions about the exercise of the papal office and the exact parameters of the obedience of the faithful than they have ever been required to make before. It used to be considered a rule of thumb—in your neoscholastic manuals, for instance—that the mere appearance of something in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis would justify making a religious submission of will and intellect to it. This latest publication rather abruptly puts an end to that exaggerated deference!

Br. Romuald: You mean, shows us that the assumptions of the 1950s are untenable?

Br. Barsanuphius: Right. The 1950s gave us two striking examples to think about: the Assumpion with a capital ‘a’, and the assumptions of the liturgical reformers that gave us the “reformed Holy Week.” The former is a dogma of the faith; the latter was a tragic rupture.

Br. Romuald: I know what you mean. For a long time I had this uncomfortable feeling that the Pacellian rites were a pastiche of old and modern bits, based on someone’s clever idea of how things ought to go. It never seemed right.

Br. Barsanuphius: And when the monastery returned to the ancient rites of Holy Week, I was—I have to say—just carried away by the awesomeness, the majesty, the overpowering reality of them. I felt almost crushed by their weight, and yet oddly free to be serious about the most serious thing of all.

Br. Romuald (after a silence): You are turning into a mystic on me, brother…

Br. Barsanuphius (smiling): You can blame that on the old liturgy!

Br. Romuald: The point is, we need a better rule than that neoscholastic automatism, which practically assumes that every incumbent of the papal throne will be a saint and a doctor of the Church to boot. We need something more in accord with the intentions and texts of Vatican I, not to mention the nuanced understanding, developed over nineteen centuries, of the inherent authority of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium.

Br. Barsanuphius: What you say reminds me that in this regard, as in so many others, we are inferior to our forefathers, who, in addition to their other good qualities, tended to be more flexible, more realistic, more zealous, and more common-sensical than we are… Ah, do you hear the Vespers bell ringing? Let’s go, so we’re not late for station.

Br. Romuald: Pray for me, brother. I never thought I’d live to see such times.

Br. Barsanuphius: Nor does any of us. But this is the age God willed for us—for you and me. And, as strange as it may seem, He chose us for these times, He wanted us to be here, living, praying, suffering. We’ve mentioned Newman a lot. You know that marvelous meditation of his, which has brought me much consolation over the years:

God has created me to do Him some definite service;

He has committed some work to me

which He has not committed to another. …

Therefore I will trust Him.

Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.

If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;

in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;

if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.

My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow

may be necessary causes of some great end,

which is quite beyond us.

He does nothing in vain;

He may prolong my life, He may shorten it;

He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends,

He may throw me among strangers,

He may make me feel desolate,

make my spirits sink,

hide the future from me—

still He knows what He is about.

It is our job to offer up a pure sacrifice of praise, and to keep the truth jealously that He has imparted to us. This will be how we “save the Church.” It will not happen any other way.

Br. Romuald: You have some wisdom beyond your years, young man. Let’s be off.

64 thoughts on “A Dialogue Between Two Monks Concerning the Papacy”

  1. What a marvelous piece!

    I have bookmarked it since I know I will be returning to it often to re-read it. There’s a LOT of wisdom and insight in there, more than I can fully digest in one reading, despite its beautiful clarity and accessibility. Thank you so much for this treasure.

  2. I can see that there were some who did not want Vatican I to define papal infallibility for a variety of good reasons, but I’m sure glad they did. Can we imagine what Francis would be doing and saying if there were no brakes on his “magisterium” at all? I guess popes before Vatican I relied on Tradition and what? Canon Law? to help them make infallible decisions but nothing would have stopped Francis from blasting through the entire Faith and laying it waste.

  3. Pope Francis: a penance for our time.

    It seems that our time is one in which we have been given years long penance of living under a Pope who offers only heartache and confusion. We must believe this penance is being allowed by God so that we have the opportunity of becoming more holier, knowledgeable and patient Catholics.

  4. The worse Francis gets, the more you guys are saying, “Hey, don’t worry! He’s just a bad pope. And you really don’t have to listen to what bad popes say. Just the good ones!” This is getting more and more depressing every day. I used to be considered a good Catholic for always defending the pope. Now I’m an ultramontanist if I insist that true popes have to reflect the Catholic Faith in their speech. “Bad popes” make dumb decisions in their personal lives. They don’t change the Faith. “Popes” trying to change the Faith are not true popes.

    • Nowhere do I read in this delightful and sensible “conversation” the words “Hey, don’t worry!” It’s not what Newman said at the time of Vatican I’s proclamation of papal infallibility and it isn’t what these two monks discuss at all. Oh, and bad popes most certainly do try at times to change the faith, the operative word here being “try.” Read the history of Honorius I and of the discussion concerning him and his actions that took place at the First Vatican Council.

        • I take from the article that our understanding of the papacy and of papal authority has been what John Henry Newman once feared it would become, viz. a superstition that encourages laziness. Instead of asking ourselves about any question “What makes sense here according to 2000 years of Church history and teaching?”, we have fallen into the bad habit of thinking “What does the pope say about it?” Since the First Vatican Council, we’ve been fairly lucky to have men in Peter’s chair who were sound both intellectually and spiritually; for the most part, they’ve given the right answers to these real questions. Now the papal throne has fallen into the hands of a man of inferior intellectual worth and dubious orthodox attitudes. This article is telling us to stop wringing our hands about this fact and to grow up spiritually.

          • ” The Doctrines of the faith have not changed.”

            I have heard this line for many years as a practicing Catholic. But, the Doctrines of the faith are not just a set of books or documents that are to sit on a bookshelf. The Doctrines are a manual of how to live as a Catholic. I have seen too much now how these Doctrines are being lived or not being lived.

            I would agree, there is no point of lamenting, as the laity are called to stay faithful and prepare for what is to come in the ” joyful suffering”, for our Lord as we give glory to HIm.

            ” The highest purpose of all created things is to give glory to God. The glory of God consists of His revelation in the revelation of His perfections to His rational creatures. By giving glory to God, they lay the foundations of the their own happiness; if they fail to do this, God is glorified by the exercise of His justice towards men.”

            From – Father John Laux. Chief Truths of the Faith. Tan Books, 1934.

  5. So, in a nutshell, “I don’t think Papal Authority means what you think it means.”
    This reminds me of the narrow requirements being stated for consecration to occur. Once these were defined, everything else became surperfluous regardless of how integral it was to a holy Mass. Only when the Pope stands on his left foot, raises his right hand and utters the words, “I, the Pope, being of sound mind and body and balance, solemnly declare ex cathedra that the following is infallible…” does his authority really matter at all. Otherwise, he can “magisterially” declare any heresy he chooses. I think this is a dangerous game for traditionalists to play.

    • Listen to the latest Podcast (Episode 44) with Mike Sirilla and John Joy, two theologians who have specialized in the study of the concept of “magisterium.” It is indeed a complex thing. And pretending otherwise only makes a royal mess of it.

      • Professor K, I really do appreciate your contributions and do not mean to vent my frustration at you. I did listen to the Podcast, The discussion in the article and the podcast are where I find myself coming down most of the time and it is necessary, however it is a wholly unsatisfying place to land. We’re going to court to determine the legal definition of someone squatting in our home. While we are debating the precise definition of intent and whether they intended to evict us out of our own home, they have changed the locks and are eating our porridge. While I am neither theologian nor attorney, I submit the diabolical disorientation in the Church is not due to ignorance of precise legal definitions but a lack of good will. Simply, this is not a debate but a war. Those who hate the Church abuse those legal definitions and limits in order to give vague impressions and enact revolution without ever quite crossing the line. It seems those who love the Church treat this as a debate acted out in good faith while those who hate the Church use those same rules to handicap their victim, render the lay faithless and the Church gutted of all meaning while playing within the rules. I wish the monks’ discussion had ended with the following:

        “It is our job to offer up a pure sacrifice of praise, and to keep the truth jealously that He has imparted to us. This will be how we “save the Church.” It will not happen any other way.
        Br. Romuald: You have some wisdom beyond your years, young man. Let’s be off. After vespers, we’ll take our torches and pitchforks and arrest the heretics in the Vatican. After all, we must keep the truth jealously that He has imparted to us.”

        • The problem is, we must always have good will and “play by the rules,” regardless of what our consequentialist enemies are doing. They don’t care, because they don’t believe they will answer to God for what they have done. The psalms talk about this a lot, e.g., Psalm 10:

          11 He thinks in his heart, “God has forgotten,
          he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
          12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thy hand;
          forget not the afflicted.
          13 Why does the wicked renounce God,
          and say in his heart, “Thou wilt not call to account”?
          14 Thou dost see; yea, thou dost note trouble and vexation,
          that thou mayst take it into thy hands;
          the hapless commits himself to thee;
          thou hast been the helper of the fatherless.
          15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
          seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

          And Psalm 5 says about the wicked:

          For there is no truth in their mouth;
          their heart is destruction,
          their throat is an open sepulchre,
          they flatter with their tongue.
          10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
          let them fall by their own counsels;
          because of their many transgressions cast them out,
          for they have rebelled against thee.

          As I see it, there are things that are not mine and yours to do, such as arresting the heretics and hauling them off. Laity are supposed to live the faith and pass it on, and pray like the dickens. It’s the bishops and cardinals who will need to explain to God why they didn’t do something about the heretics, when they are specifically entrusted with the responsibility of governance and correction.

          • The problem is, your average lay American Catholic these days, good intentions or not, is obsessed with “doing something about it, heaven’s sake!” when it pertains to problems within the Church.

            We’ve become a hive of busybodies…which is to say Protestant in our faith and spirituality where everyone is his or her own little pontiff with lots of “goals” and “ambitions”.

            I don’t see any other way out of this aside from the reestablishment of the monastic ideal and the rebuilding and flourishing of the monasteries as the literal and spiritual and intellectual center, hub and nucleus of society. And not in some “Benedict Option” sort of concoction either.

          • While I do ask constantly, “Where are the generals?”, my initial point poorly made was that while it is important to make distinctions in the levels of papal authority, at this point in time, I believe the pope’s actions and the traditionalist response both serve to de-emphasize papal authority as a whole, and for all prior popes as well, chopping it up, compartmentalizing and qualifying it. While these distinctions may be necessary from a legal and juridical standpoint, I believe that in today’s environment it gleefully plays as a double-edged sword to the detriment of tradition and will undermine that which we strive to protect.

            I am all for prayer and fasting and tending to my own responsibilities and am trying to do just that. But sometimes shepherds need a gentle headbutt from a goat in their flock to get their attention to the encircling wolves.

          • Indeed. When the great apostle and saint Paulus says in his epistle to Ephesians, in chapter 6; “Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.”

            He explained in his later sentence what that armor of God means; “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

            Not a sword of steel, not helmet of iron.

            And he, leaded by nobody else but by the Holy Spirit, said that very nicely again, in his 1 epistle to Thessalonians, in chapter 5; “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

            How wonderful and clear, how vivid words! Because he is using here the words; Faith, Charity, and Hope of Salvation, as in that other epistle also, he expressly used words; Spirit and Salvation from the purpose to meant the word of God, expressly in combination with such militant, combat words to express himself clearly, to make ‘Christian’s Fight’ distinct to us, what it really is and what our fight only can be. We can also summarize this in just one single word,- a CROSS.

            Very worthy reading are the words of our Almighty God through the prophet Hosea, chapter 4, which goes about the times of general corruption caused by large number of apostate priests; “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel, for the Lord shall enter into judgment with the inhabitants of the land: for there is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land.”
            . . .
            But yet let not any man judge: and let not a man be rebuked: for thy people are as they that contradict the priest.
            . . .
            According to the multitude of them so have they sinned against me: I will change their glory into shame.”

            Our Lord speaks here very clearly about the fact which is that; HE only is the One who will judge and commit retribution against His own priests.

            I am convinced, when we are praying a lot, well humbly and honestly, and we let us be guided by the Holy Spirit when we read the words of God from the Holy Scripture, and I must accentuate here, the whole Bible, Old and New Testament, and certainly without forgetting the Apocryphal books, … then we by the grace of our God become more and more aware of immense dimensions of Divine mysteries.
            A lot of prayers and penance results in good, steady, orthodox Catholic Faith.
            A good Faith then results in a healthy reasoning.
            And a healthy reasoning helps to strengthen and grow in good Faith.

  6. I have read and reread the article several times.
    Quite honestly, it makes me want to ” hunker down” and just allow what is to happen, ” happen” in the Church.

    There is no purpose to even consider defending the faith with Bergoglio as the pope. He has only just begun his campaign and it will be very difficult to advise/spiritual counsel those who continue on their very lost path.
    Very sad.

    Well the monk article was certainly an “eye opener”. Who needs a pope anyway? Who needs cardinals or bishops for that matter?
    If a pope can ” dance” around the faith and promote heresy without being formal, only permitting ” certain pockets’ of the faithful to engage in Communion while in mortal sin……..and be considered just a ” bad pope”, well then, who am I to judge?
    In fact, one must have true pity for Bergoglio, for he is like a ” bad little boy”, without anyone to tell him to ” stop it.”
    I am praying for him. He has been allowed to do what he wants to do.

    It is obvious that no cardinal will make any kind of Formal Correction or Imperfect Council.
    After reading this article, I can see why.

    Pray we must. There is nothing to be done about it.

  7. This is excellent.

    You’ve elucidated the biggest problems surrounding the papacy in a concise and literary form.

    Every sedevacantist ought to read this.

    Well done, Mr. Kwasniewski.

  8. There is a profound unstated subtextual irony at work here.

    Ratzinger’s description of the limitations of the Papacy are one thing as far as it being referenced goes but it was quite another thing for him, as Prefect of the Holy Doctrine of the Faith, to declare infallible teachings of previous popes were,”for the first time” being vacated.

    He claimed this during the Papacy of Pope Saint John Paul II.

    There is also the curious fact that as Prefect of the CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger did not realise that by vacating infallible encyclicals treating of the various reasons why religious freedoms were rejected by the Church, he was a sapper of the very Papal authority he would possess.

    • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has been the Prefect for the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith since 1982. He is considered by most to be the second most important man in the Vatican. He is also considered to be the bastion of orthodoxy and traditional Catholicism among the hierarchy.

      The year 1982 also saw the publication of Cardinal Ratzinger’s book Principles of Catholic Theology. The book contains an Epilogue On the Status of Church and Theology Today. Part B is titled Church and World: An Inquiry into the Reception of Vatican Council II. The text focuses primarily on the Vatican II document the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et Spes), which the Cardinal calls “a kind of summa of Christian anthropology.” The following is of immediate interest to our subject:

      “If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text (Gaudium et Spes) as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus. Harnack, as we know, interpreted the Syllabus of Pius IX as nothing less than a declaration of war against his generation. This is correct insofar as the Syllabus established a line of demarcation against the determining forces of the nineteenth century: against the scientific and political world view of liberalism. In the struggle against modernism this twofold delimitation was ratified and strengthened. Since then many things have changed. The new ecclesiastical policy of Pius XI produced a certain openness toward a liberal understanding of the state. In a quiet but persistent struggle, exegesis and Church history adopted more and more the postulates of liberal science, and liberalism, too, was obliged to undergo many significant changes in the great political upheavals of the twentieth century. As a result, the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X in response to the situation created by the new phase of history inaugurated by the French Revolution was, to a large extent, corrected via facti, especially in Central Europe, but there was still no basic statement of the relationship that should exist between the Church and the world that had come into existence after 1789. In fact, an attitude that was largely pre-Revolutionary continued to exist in countries with strong Catholic majorities. Hardly anyone today will deny that the Spanish and Italian Concordats strove to preserve too much of a view of the world that no longer corresponded to the facts. Hardly anyone today will deny that, in the field of education and with respect to the historico-critical method in modern science, anachronisms existed that corresponded closely to this adherence to an obsolete Church-state relationship…..
Let us be content to say here that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.”

      These words of Cardinal Ratzinger are absolutely astounding. Cardinal Ratzinger places himself and Gaudium et Spes in direct contradiction – countersyllabus – to the central teachings of Blessed Pius IX and St. Pius X. This, however, is a gross understatement. He actually places himself and this non-doctrinal document in direct opposition to the absolutely consistent teaching of at least nine Popes in dozens of documents covering a period of almost 175 years. Further, his statement that there was a new “ecclesiastical policy” under Pope Pius XI which somehow foreshadowed the “countersyllabus” teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger and Gaudium et Spes is simply false. In order to thoroughly dispel this error, I quote again the following words from Pius XI’s encyclical on The Kingship of Christ:

      “He, however would be guilty of shameful error who would deny to Christ as man authority over civil affairs, no matter what their nature, since by virtue of the absolute dominion over all creatures He holds from the Father, all things are in His power…. “His (Christ’s) empire manifestly includes not only Catholic nations, not only those who were baptized, and of right belong to the Church, though error of doctrine leads them astray or schism severs them from her fold; but it includes also all those who are outside the Christian faith, so that truly the human race, in its entirety is subject to the power of Jesus Christ.’ Nor in this connection is there any difference between individuals and communities whether family or State, for community aggregates are just as much under the dominion of Christ as individuals. The same Christ assuredly is the source of the individual’s salvation and of the community’s salvation: Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.”

      Cardinal Ratzinger cannot have directly contradicted all these magisterial documents of so many Popes without at the same time attacking the integrity and sanctity of the Magisterium. On May 24, 1990 Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published an Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian. The Cardinal also presented to the press a fairly long statement regarding the structure and purpose of the document. This statement was also published in Part III of his book The Nature and Mission of Theology. It contains the following passage:

      “The text also presents the various forms of binding authority which correspond to the grades of the Magisterium. It states – perhaps for the first time – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be the final word on a given matter as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are chiefly also a signal for pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional policy. Their kernel remains valid, but the particulars determined by circumstances can stand in need of correction. In this connection, one will probably call to mind both the pontifical statements of the last century regarding freedom of religion and the anti-Modernists decisions of the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the then Biblical Commission.”

      Can any of us imagine telling Popes Pius VI, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, or Pius XI (or any of the other almost innumerable Popes who taught against religious indifferentism) that their condemnations and teachings were provisional and in need of correction?

      Pope St. Gelasius (492-496), in his epistle Licet Inter Vari pens the following instruction, profoundly applicable in the case of Cardinal Ratzinger;

      “What pray permits us to abrogate what has been condemned by the venerable Fathers, and to reconsider the impious dogmas that have been demolished by them? Why is it, therefore, that we take such great precautions lest any dangerous heresy, once driven out, strive anew to come up for examination, if we argue that what has been known, discussed, and refuted of old by our elders ought to be restored? Are we not ourselves offering, which God forbid, to all the enemies of the truth an example of rising again against ourselves, which the Church will never permit….Or are we wiser than they, or shall we be able to stand constant with firm stability, if we should undermine those [dogmas] which have been established by them?” (Denzinger, 161)

      It might be argued that what was taught by these Popes does not involve dogma. Is it not dogma that God is Supreme Being, that we are created by Him out of nothing, and that He has the absolute right to supreme Sovereignty and Dominion over every human individual and institution? Is it not dogma that Jesus Christ established only one true Church, that there is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, and that outside the Church there is no salvation – this despite the fact that no one will be condemned “who has not the guilt of deliberate sin” (Pius IX – Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, Denzinger, 1677)? Is it not dogma that just as Christ possesses Universal Sovereignty over all individuals, He also possesses this same Sovereignty over all nations; and that a nation will be blessed or cursed accordingly as it accepts this Sovereignty and God’s plan for divine order in this world? Is it not absolutely integral to Catholic dogma, therefore, that there is no such legitimate thing as “separation of Church and State”? Is it not absolutely integral to Catholic dogma, therefore, that there is no such thing as a “right” to religious error or a “right” to claim existence as a legitimate Christian religion or world religion outside of the Catholic Church?

      The Oath Against The Errors Of Modernism began as follows:

      “I ………….firmly embrace and accept all and everything that has been defined, affirmed, and declared by the unerring magisterium of the Church, especially those chief doctrines which are directly opposed to the errors of this time.” Further on: “I also subject myself with the reverence which is proper, and I adhere with my whole soul to all the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions which are contained in the Encyclical letter “ Pascendi” and in the Decree “Lamentabili”…..”

      Pope St. Pius X designates the magisterium as “unerring”, and includes in this unerring magisterium the condemnations, declarations, and prescriptions of both Pius X’s Syllabus and his encyclical Pascendi (On the Doctrines of the Modernists). Cardinal Ratzinger, on the other hand, states that probably for the first time in Church history we can now accept that there is a part of the magisterium which is infallible and permanent, and there is another part that is fallible, and can be seen as provisional and superseded . The Cardinal further states that among these provisional and superseded teachings are the very ones which Pope Pius X declares to be part of the “unerring” magisterium . If Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements are to be considered in any way the mind of the Church, may we not say with Pope St. Gelasius : “Are we not ourselves offering, which God forbid, to all the enemies of the truth an example of rising again against ourselves, which the Church will never permit?” Are we not, in fact, denying the very Being of God by denying the Being and Nature of the Church which He founded?

      Further, Pius X, in his Motu Proprio Praestantia Scripturae, issued Nov 18, 1907, declared ipso facto excommunication upon any who would contradict or “endeavor to destroy the force and the efficacy” of these documents:

      “In addition to this, intending to repress the daily increasing boldness of spirit of many Modernists, who by sophisms and artifices of every kind endeavor to destroy the force and the efficacy not only of the Decree, “Lamentabili sane exitu,” which was published at Our command by the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition on the third of July of the current year, but also of Our Encyclical Letter “Pascendi Dominici gregis,” given on the eighth of September of this same year by Our Apostolic authority, We repeat and confirm not only that Decree of the Sacred Supreme congregation, but also that Encyclical Letter of Ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against all who contradict them; and We declare and decree this: if anyone, which may God forbid, proceeds to such a point of boldness that he defends any of the propositions, opinions, and doctrines disproved in either document mentioned above, he is ipso facto afflicted by the censure imposed in the chapter Docentes of the Constitution Apostolicae Sedis of the Apostolic See, first among those excommunications latae sententiae which are reserved simply to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication, however, is to be understood with no change in the punishments, which those who have committed anything against the above mentioned documents may incur, if at anytime their propositions, opinions, or doctrines are heretical; which indeed has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, but especially when they defend the errors of modernism, that is, the refuge of all heresies.”

      We have two choices. We may believe Pope St. Pius X, the only Pope to be canonized since the 16th century, who largely dedicated his Papacy to the extirpation of these errors from the Catholic Church. Or we may believe Cardinal Ratzinger who says that the teachings and condemnations of this Pope have been superseded, thus falling into the category of those who “endeavor to destroy the force and efficacy” of these documents and their teachings and decrees. According to the decree of Pope Pius X, of course, Cardinal Ratzinger would be in a state of automatic excommunication. Whether or not this decree has been abrogated certainly lies outside my competence to judge. The fact, however, remains: Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements are clearly anti-magisterial to a massive degree.

      • The German Shepherd was supposed to clean house when he was a Cardinal!
        Today the homosexuals have taken over!
        Just listen to the clap trap that comes from James Martin SJ!

  9. Br. Romuald: Positively, it is about holding fast to the teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels about marriage and divorce—teaching clearly stated and determined past all doubt by the Magisterium of the Church, including most recently (and repeatedly) by St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    Br. Barsanuphius: Amen to that. What is the Pope for, if not to guard and proclaim the Deposit of Faith, integral and unadulerated?

    This narrative just does not hold up to the historical facts. The papally-sanctioned pastoral practice of the Church has been to absolve – and admit to Holy Communion – unrepentant usurers, on the basis of the same sort of “conscience” appeals applied to sex in Amoris, since the 1830’s.

    To unwind the Jesuit pastoral program of separating ‘pastoral practice’ from doctrine, followed inevitably by willful forgetfulness of the meaning of the infallible doctrine in the first place, it isn’t enough to look to the present.

    • Regarding your link…

      For most of his 87 years poet Ezra Pound railed, too, against usury. Then, in July of 1972—less than four months before his death—he wrote:

      Re: USURY:
      I was out of focus, taking a symptom for a cause.
      The cause is AVARICE.

      According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the element of usury opposed by the early Church Fathers was that of taking advantage of another’s misfortune.

      • HookLineandMillstone,

        Re: the real problem with usury is avarice.

        Well, perhaps. Just like the real problem with adultery and fornication is lust. Or perhaps the “real problem” with contraception is also avarice. There’s always a further step back we can take to get to the root issue. All the way back to the Original Sin in the Garden. That may be helpful in telling sinners *why* they have been susceptible to a particular sin. But the Church has typically never tired in reminding us that – regardless why we may be tempted to particular sins – particular grave sins are in fact grave sins.

        • Agreed: taking advantage of someone’s misfortune is a grave matter.
          I don’t see how a bank’s charging interest on a loan is that.

          Who other than a personal friend will be motivated, or be in a position, to offer an interest-free loan to anybody?

          Every human activity has a moral dimension. But when our bishops issued “Economic Justice For All” in 1986, my opinion was—and continues to be: guided by the Holy Spirit, our bishops have the right to exhort the faithful to “feed the hungry.” They have no business, though, in telling us how to fry an egg.

          There is no Spirit-inspired, no Catholic way to fry eggs. It is a matter of prudential judgment, not morality. So is economics; exhort us to avoid avarice. Do not decide, from the outside, where enlightened self-interest—as Adam Smith called it—ends, and avarice begins.

          I support the Church’s current tolerant position on usury.

          • HookLineandMillstone,

            Usury – please read the link in Zippy’s earlier comment – is intrinsically immoral. It is evil, wicked. There are millennia of Church teachings to this extent. There is no “prudential” reasoning that would make usury anything other than objective evil. Just as there is no prudential reasoning that would make adultery morally valid. You said:

            “I support the Church’s current tolerant position on usury.”

            That is exactly the point. The Church went silent on usury, and this is the result. Two centuries from now comboxes will be filled with traditionalists typing “I support the Church’s current tolerant position on divorce and remarriage” all the while hand wringing over whatever Pope Francis IV is trying to silence then.

          • Although not well read on the “finer points of usury” at first glance it holds no value and is indeed
            contrary to the Christian spirit. Promotes avarice rather than “regulates” it.

            There is a valid argument that suggests material industry and development would suffer and we would
            not have the “benefit” today of much useful technology. Having said that, so what! We are pilgrims on a
            journey towards perfection in GOD not some utopia here on this physical planet in which we all experience
            a very short life.

            As for Pope Francis IV……the rot will not survive and thrive that far. Wanted to inject some humor about such
            a forecast but words fail and cardiac arrest ensues…

          • There is a valid argument that suggests without some form of usury; material industry and development would “suffer” and we would not have the “benefit” today of much useful technology, employment, and “social stability”.

            Most of that argument though rests on a lack of understanding of the difference between mutuum and societas “lending”. We have forgotten what usury even is and is not, just as future versions of ourselves very well may have forgotten the difference between moral and immoral sexual acts.

          • Thanks zippy,
            As I have admitted I am not sufficiently “up to speed” on this issue but tend towards your position here.

            In relation to usury and parallels regarding sexual impurity I don’t believe such ignorance of sexual immorality could be sustained given the gravitas of such disorder and the resultant damage of this abuse to the human psyche.

            However the central premise of your future forecast holds true in so far as the further we drift from the Truth the
            more we lose reality and our God-given dignity.

            There are certain Truths that God would not (and could never) allow to disappear as they are enshrined in the
            natural law and heart of Man, and we are made in HIS image. When people commit a sexual sin weather they are
            Christian or atheist, or pagan or whatever, they KNOW.

            However with usury it gets complicated and the lower intellect can in ERROR “justify” it’s application under certain conditions.

          • In relation to usury and parallels regarding sexual impurity I don’t believe such ignorance of sexual immorality could be sustained given the gravitas of such disorder and the resultant damage of this abuse to the human psyche. … When people commit a sexual sin whether they are Christian or atheist, or pagan or whatever, they KNOW.

            I am sympathetic to that view but I strongly suspect that it is wrong: that centuries of cultural conditioning explains the difference; that in fact usury is simpler and more obviously wrong than various sexual sins.

            “Virtuous pagans” have understood and condemned the evil of usury for millennia, simultaneously practicing all manner of sexual degeneracy without apparent pangs of conscience. It is only with the rise of economic liberalism in the past several centuries that the moral wrongness of usury has become putatively confusing and definitely forgotten.

          • I did check out the link; it’s far too extensive to read in its entirety. You might want to check out the entry on usury in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

            As far as the analogy with lust goes…Lust is simply the name given to illicit sexual desire. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about desire—as long as it’s for one’s spouse.

            Fornication is the name given to sexual relations with someone outside of the marriage bond. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about sexual relations—as long as it’s with one’s spouse.

            Similarly, interest is the name given to the profit one makes from lending. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about making a profit—so long as it is not abusive. Slyly raising interest rates on someone already in debt to you; maintaining collection agents armed with baseball bats—these are abusive.

            Unless you’re prepared to say that all profit is morally sinful—in which case, we live on different planets—I argue that the capital it takes to raise a bank building, heat it, light it and hire employees to work in it, is a sufficient justification for wanting to profit from the benefit of offering loans.

          • Well, I really don’t think the link is that extensive. FWIW I’m a finance trogolod, and yet I’ve learned that what’s 99.9% practiced as usury is rather crunchy and doesnt require any “finer point” understanding of usury. Again, I would recommend the link of Zippy’s regarding this notion of profit from investments. I think folks have severely misunderstood this issue. Which is why we keep warning that Francis freak out folks are missing the mark.

            I’m not prepared to say any number of things you think I need to to make modern fiance sane and moral. But, again, it points to the abyss we’re facing if we keep thinking what is currently going on with the divorcing of pastoral and doctrinal is somehow novel. PLEASE go read the links referenced earlier.

          • I find 58 items; assertions, many several paragraphs long, most with which I disagree outright or would need to qualify greatly. Though I appreciate Pound—and John Randolph of Roanoke—I’ll stick with Milton Friedman.

          • Don’t leave out millennia of authoritative proclamations by the Church’s Magisterium on the subject.

            If any moral doctrine is infallible it is the Church’s condemnation of usury. The condemnation of contraception (for example) is on far shakier ground in terms of the sheer number of references, clarifications, and full throated condemnations by the Church.

            That doesn’t call the condemnation of contraception into question in the least. But it is manifestly inconsistent to acknowledge the moral evil of contraception as affirmed by the Magisterium without also affirming, with even greater certainty and lack of equivocation, the condemnation of usury.

          • Unless you’re prepared to say that all profit is morally sinful…

            All profit is not usury, and not all contracts that modern people call “loans” are mutuum loans (personal IOUs). That is an obvious straw man to anyone who is even passingly familiar with the subject.

            I really think you might benefit from actually reading more with a mind open to the teaching of the Church; for example here is a citation from Detestabilis avarita ingluvies (Pope Sixtus V) clarifying that mutuum — personal obligation to repay as opposed to a claim against collateral property — makes the difference between usurious profit and morally licit profit.

          • One of the most brilliant Catholic thinkers alive is E. Michael Jones. If I were to make a list of 20 books that a Catholic should read before he dies, “Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control” would be among the top five. “The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing” would also be right up there.

            He too is, in my judgment, preoccupied with usury. But, brilliant though he is, he is unconvincing.

            Call me invincibly ignorant, then. I’m sure I know far less than you do on the subject. That doesn’t make my arguments straw men. It’s simply an indication that I’m not galvanized enough by the topic to see it as critical.

          • Your apathy with respect to usury is very similar to the modern liberal’s apathy with respect to adultery.

            “Outlawing usury” wouldn’t require massive government intervention. Quite the contrary: it would merely require that the government refrain from enforcing deficiency judgments in debt contracts. It would require the government to stop doing something that it now actively does.

      • If that narrative works then Pope Francis is just teaching the Church not to take a symptom (adultery) for its causes (lust, faithlessness, disloyalty, selfishness).

        I don’t buy that narrative. But if you buy it when it comes to the infallibly, intrinsically evil behavior of usury then you have no consistent basis to object when it comes to the infallibly intrinsically evil behavior of adultery.

  10. Again there is one simple fact. The attempt to “magisterialize “ the heresy of approval in some cases of adultery and consequently free reception of sacrilegious of Holy Communion under the guise of pastoral practice illustrates the pertinacity of Francis. Arguing which mail slot of the Magisterium a particular document is to be placed is secondary and closes the eyes to the elephant in the living room. Of course doctrine doesn’t change, it’s part of how we judge even a pope’s actions. Tradition and reason can never be discarded.

    • Eyes Opened,

      The “simple fact” is that the contemporary Church is doing nothing more than following the playbook of the Church’s centuries long pertinacity. The elephant in the room is ridden daily by the same folks rightly horrified at today’s shenanigans by the Church. That doesn’t mean we should give a pass to what’s going on. Rather it shows the situation is so very much worse than what most people commenting here even realize. It also means that focusing on Francis will do little. We must burn the playbook in order to kill the elephants. PLEASE, go read the link provided by Zippy in his earlier comment.

        • Noticing (correctly) the contemporary Church’s silence on gravely sinful adultery = open eyed traditionalist.

          Noticing (correctly) a couple of centuries silence on gravely sinful usury = soundin’ Protestant.

          • Eyes Opened,

            I’m not a sedevacantist. Until the Church corrects me I accept the validity of all the typically listed popes and councils. All the way down to Pope Francis. I don’t believe it requires sedevacantism to note there has been a divorce of pastoral practice and doctrine that long predates Vatican II and the current concern regarding divorce and remarriage and admission to Holy Communion. I’ve freely admitted I’m no finance expert. My role in these discussions is usually to point out that usury is not so difficult a concept that even people like me can understand it. I also think it’s terrifying to consider that most people today don’t even know what usury is or that it’s not so important. It’s terifying to consider the possibility that two centuries from now that will be the same attitude of Catholics towards any manner of sexual perversion.

        • It is a verifiable fact that usury – any profit from mutuum lending – was infallibly declared to be always gravely immoral by the Church, over a period spanning millennia. It is also the case that the ‘pastoral’ approach to sexual morality being advanced by Pope Francis is strikingly similar to the pastoral program followed by the popes in the 1830’s with respect to usury.

          So it is not unreasonable to predict that in a hundred years or so from now Catholics will not even understand what adultery is and is not, just as Catholics today do not really understand what usury is and is not.

          The only way to avoid that result is to ‘burn the playbook’ — to resist and ultimately end the long established pastoral practice of admitting those who persist in manifest grave sin to Holy Communion, as the Church has done since the 1830’s.

          • I accuse Francis of heresy based on his actions, therefore not really pope, subject to official declaration by the Church. I won’t accept Amoris Laetitia. You complain about the pope’s for hundreds of years. Apples and oranges. Not the same circumstances. Not the same “playbook”.

          • The difference appears to be that you object to the grave sin of adultery but have no objection to the grave sin of usury.

          • At the moment I am trying to verify your claim that usury is dogmatically declared a grave sin, and that what loans are made a usury. I won’t be doing much study over Christmas, however.

            The other difference is that you accuse all popes for literally hundreds of years of being complicit in approval of usury. That’s quite a judgment, don’t you think? Is that heretical in your point of view – yes or no?

          • You just opened my eyes to the proper meaning of tome, I believe.

            Thank you.

            BTW, I am a “fan” of Zippy’s.

          • OK, so how do you judge all the popes over the past few hundred years, e.g. complicit in mortal sin or what?

          • No. Toward the meaning of tome.

            But, when I can muster the time, I gotta read at Zippy’s blog, stuff related to usury.

          • Friend, you call yourself “Eyes Opened” but you seem to have your eyes tightly shut. You’ve been given the reference you asked for, but instead, you show you are prepared to make no effort. The last few centuries have seen the erosion of the moral framework in which usury was understood to be grave matter. By the “Enlightenment”, economics could be presented as a science in the modern sense – a field of study that has no moral content. The Catholic notion of economics as a moral science dedicated to the common good of a society disappeared. Once economics was turned into a nominalist wonderland, sexual morals were attacked in the same way: “She’s my wife and never mind the previous one, because I say so”; “It’s a blob of tissue, not a human being, because I say so.”; “I’m a woman, and you’re a fascist to bring up chromosomes – because I say so.”

            Now you also keep throwing in the red herring of papal infallibility, as if there were terrifying sedevacantist implications in the idea that popes could have got something wrong. There was never any fresh doctrine promulgated that contradicted previous teaching on usuary, but the back door of pastoral permissiveness was open. I’d suggest you search the web to get a grasp of just how narrow a remit papal infallibility actually has, but from what you’ve said here, the signs are that you simply don’t want to put any work in, and you’ll always stick to whatever opinions you happen to have absorbed. Now kindly prove me wrong on this. God bless.

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