(Image Credit: Lena Klimkeit Picture Alliance/DPA)
All sorts of rumors are now swirling about current events in the Church:
- Cardinal Burke has been cancelling engagements. Why?
- Cardinal Muller has resigned from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Was he forced or was it voluntary?
- A formal correction of the Pope has already been made in private and is about to become public.
- The Pope and his allies are intending to radically revamp the Novus Ordo Mass to make it even more amenable to Protestants and others.
And these come against the background of significant public events and incidents:
- The official and public endorsement of a heretical understanding of communion by various groups of bishops in Argentina, Malta and now Germany, based (they claim) on the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The Pope has either confirmed their endorsements or maintained a favorable-seeming silence.
- The “annexation” of the Sovereign Order of Malta by the Vatican.
- The overnight appearance in Rome of posters critical of a sitting pope – something not seen since the era of the Papal States.
- A parody “attack” on the pope sent via email to Vatican officials.
- A seemingly coordinated attack on Cardinal Burke – now the Pope’s most identifiable “opponent” – accusing him of being a right-wing extremist in league with the Trump administration and neo-Fascist Italian politicians. The attack has involved Pope Francis himself and various Vatican allies but has also bled over into the American secular press.
A friend reminded me of this motto:
Motus in fine velocior
“Motion accelerates when the end is near”
But what is the “end” in this case?
The unprecedented (in modern times) suppression of four (or more) cardinals and thus a tightening of the grip of the Church of Mercy?
Or is it that the “end” will include the removal of a pope?
As unthinkable as the last possibility may seem, more and more people, many inside the Church hierarchy and bureaucracy, are now privately talking about it. Even if it is mere wishful thinking, this has enormous significance.
Yesterday, Rorate Caeli, one of the leading traditionalist Catholic websites, published a long essay by Canadian-born philosopher John R.T. Lamont, addressing certain questions surrounding the meaning of “formal correction.” While the positions taken in he article were not explicitly endorsed by the site, the post was not preceded by any disclaimers either, unlike other “controversial” articles they have published.
Among other things, Lamont claims:
In the light of the fact that Pope Francis has openly endorsed heretical understandings of Amoris laetitia in his letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region of Sept. 5th 2016, it is more likely than not that he is in fact a formal heretic.
Why then have so few cardinals and bishops publicly lined up with the four “dubia cardinals” on this? Lamont argues that much of the reason stems from an absolutist understanding of “obedience,” with roots in the philosophy of St. Ignatius Loyola and other 16th and 17th century Jesuits. But this understanding is erroneous and dangerous:
The question of how anyone, even a cardinal, can correct the Pope is an important one. It is a basic principle of the divinely established constitution of the Church that the Pope judges all other Catholics on earth and is judged by none of them. But this constitution does not establish the Pope as an autocrat with tyrannical authority, who is answerable to no-one. The Pope’s authority is a legal one, and as with all legal authority it involves duties to his subjects as well as rights over them. The duty to confess the Catholic faith is a fundamental duty of the papal office. His subjects may thus formally request and even require him to carry out this duty. The right to make such a formal request belongs to any Catholic, but the cardinals, whose office is to advise the Pope, have a strict duty as well as a right to make this request. The cardinals who have failed to do this are guilty of a grave dereliction of duty. This failure is a catastrophe that threatens to lead to the disintegration of most of the Church.
Read the full article here.
It should be noted that the anonymous Rorate author who introduces the piece strongly rejects the truth of the rumor that the Pope has already been formally corrected. However, he does not explain why he believes this.
We’ll find out soon enough.
Originally published at Mahound’s Paradise. Reprinted with permission. This post has been modified for republication.
Oakes Spalding is a Catholic writer living in Chicago.