The health of Benedict XVI has dramatically diminished in the last two weeks, Paloma Gómez Borrero wrote Tuesday night in the Spanish paper El Mundo. According to her, Benedict suffers from something – quote – “very severe”. She adds: “We won’t have him with us for very much longer”.
I write this post with some trepidation. Over the past few weeks I have argued that we should not drive a wedge amongst Catholics, nor be too quick to compare Pope Francis to… anyone really. Therefore I offer this caveat: this post is not a comparison but more to simply state for the record.
What we must not forget is that the media is reporting about Francis what they choose to report. This is the same media that has lambasted the Catholic Church, that has attacked the Faith, and has not given an inch. We should be wary of those sheep that have the teeth of wolves. They would like nothing more than to turn Catholic against Catholic, for remember the world will hate us because of Him.
I had a post half written and intended on finishing it this evening. Then I read Father Z’s blog and noticed that he wrote a post that essentially steals my thunder, which isn’t the first time.1 In his post he talks about something which I did not intend to write about, but that dovetails into this post quite well: Pope Francis purportedly read Romano Guarini, and wrote on his “Spirit of the Liturgy.”
An interesting factoid.
What I planned on writing in my post was how we are all very quick to pit Pope against Pope, and to even judge and weigh the early actions of Pope Francis; not only against our theological and canonical knowledge, but also against Benedict’s pontificate. It seems foolish that we would judge quite so harshly someone, and something, that is new and probably quite unexpected for all concerned.
The Catholic world is in an uproar right now. In fact, the AP posted a story: “Pope’s foot-wash a final straw for traditionalists.” The problem is focused on the Mandatum Mass, where there is an optional “foot washing” that can be done during the Mass by the priest. The Rubrics, which are supposed to be followed – because they exist, call for men’s feet to be washed.
Many Catholic blogs through the years have focused on this, again option, portion of the Mandatum and have written extensively, myself included. As I, and others, have said – the Rubrics are clear and priests should follow the Rubrics.
This isn’t to say that the Rubrics must say this, or that priests even elect to do this ceremony during the Mass.1 Some have gone so far as to argue that the foot-washing should remain men only because of its symbolic link to the priestly ministry. Yet, some others have argued that it isn’t that women’s feet shouldn’t be washed ever, but that the Rubrics say what they say, and therefore should be followed.
The issue is rather complex actually, because it touches upon several areas, and layers, of Church law. No one better than Dr. Ed Peters can break down a complex issue, and speak about it in a way that educates, analyzes, and charitably explains it in the simplest of ways. So when I was his post on this issue I was reminded of just how well he does exactly that.
A part I found to be the most well said, really affects both traditionally minded Catholics that are full of anxiety due to the Pope’s actions, and those that are attempting to argue that it means more than it probably does. Peters says:
A pope’s ignoring of a law is not an abrogation of the law but, especially where his action reverberated around the world, it seems to render the law moot. For the sake of good order, then, the Mandatum rubrics should be modified to permit the washing of women’s feet or, perhaps upon the advice of Scriptural and theological experts, the symbolism of apostolic ministry asserted by some to be contained in the rite should be articulated and the rule reiterated. What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
I get the feeling everyone is so busy pigeonholing the Pope, scrutinizing everything he does or says, measuring him according to their preconceived notions on what and how he is supposed to be doing things, that they are hardening their hearts and not listening to what the Holy Spirit is doing or saying.
Unfortunately, that is probably true. Although, I do agree with Peters, that the best thing to do is keep with the Rubrics, or to change them and provide Catechesis.
Not to compare the brother Popes, but what Benedict always did well, was to provide Catechesis for any changes or reforms. We knew exactly what and why.
Lex orandi, lex credendi.
In fact, I have pondered whether the ceremony might be done prior to the Mass, for many reasons, as are other various rites for certain occasions. [↩]
I’m “all in” when it comes the Latin Mass, but I am also “all in” when it comes to the Pope. I didn’t leave the Anglican priesthood to pretend to be my own Pope once again only this time in the Catholic Church.
I am enthusiastic about Pope Francis? To be honest, I don’t know very much about His Holiness. Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m not as excited as I would have been if Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Ranjith had walked out on that balcony yesterday. Those who read this blog daily know that my heart and my reputation was set on Burke. Oh well. I’m not God. I was way off the mark. Still, the Holy Father Francis has my filial devotion and obedience.
Let’s give His Holiness some time. Let’s pray for him. If you’re really worried, don’t log on to a blog combox. Fast on bread and water, pray the Rosary more, go to confession more regularly, give alms to the poor, etc.
As I have started to write about, there is some sort of division that is brewing amongst some Catholic faithful. It seems that some Catholics that were not fans of Pope Benedict’s liturgical reforms have found a way to drive a wedge between him and Pope Francis. The wedge is ‘the poor’ or social justice in general.
Instead of talking about redoubling our efforts to ensure that we are living lives of service, some high ranking Catholics in the institutional Church as well as the media have started this narrative. At first it seemed to be an undercurrent but it has now popped up in a major way.
Right now, in the court of the Catholic blogosphere, the legacy and entirety of Pope Francis’ Papacy is being fought by supporters and concerned Catholics.
Yes, you read that rght. On what amounts to ‘Day 3’ people on both ends of the spectrum are digging in their heals and using rather extreme language. I have seen everything from insinuations of people joining the SSPX on one end of the extreme, to a Twitter #hashtag campaign to get ‘#LoveHimAlready’ trending.
Personally, I think to judge Pope Francis negatively to an extreme degree right now is not only foolish, most likely unfair based on the limited info we have, but also contrary to our understanding and belief of the Catholic faith. I am working on a post about this, but I think it is fair to go on record with this sentiment.
Now… on the other end, things are getting just as out of hand, if not more so. A lot of ‘support’ for our new Pope is rolling in, and there seems to be a few over-zealous supporters. It might be a combination of trying to balance out the detractors and the unique humility and love that Pope Francis seems to exude.
But I wonder if a FatHead takes things a tad to far? In fact, it might fly directly in the face of what Francis will attempt to show us through his Papacy. It is a nice sentiment… maybe down the road something like this could make sense, it really isn’t that different from a photo of the Pope on your wall… but again, it is Day 3.
It’s only his second day on the job, but already Pope Francis will live in infamy on the walls of Catholic followers just as celebrities and athletes have lived for years: As a Fathead.
Detroit-based Fathead LLC has released three four-by-six foot Pope Francis Fathead murals, based on photos taken upon the first sighting of Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis. The murals cost $100 each.
“We have always stood by Fathead being all about what is passionate — For Real, and allowing people to bring their favorite inspiration to life,” said Patrick McInnis, chief executive officer of Fathead, in a statement.
What do you think? Can too much ‘support’ like this be a bad thing? Is this a case of too much too soon? I personally feel that we should be a little more moderated in how we show support for the Pope. What he, and the Church, need more than anything our for our prayers and for Catholics to live authentic lives of holy faith, hope and love.
I have a more lengthy post that I am trying to write about the “Battle” going on currently in the blogosphere over who Pope Francis is, and how various “groups” within the Church view him as our new Pope.
While doing so I ran across an image that I pray will become the reality of his Papacy. Now, I don’t believe we really know what his Papacy will be like as it is much, much too early. That being said, folks are laying down their money and placing their bets.
In a perfect world, Pope Francis would maintain a line of continuity with the past two Popes and become a piece of the overall puzzle. The following picture is my hope for the pontificate of Pope Francis:
This is a very insightful first glimpse into both the Conclave and the way in which the Cardinals view Pope Francis:
(Reuters) – Shortly after his election on Wednesday night, Pope Francis shunned the papal limousine and rode on the last shuttle bus with other cardinals to go back to a residence inside the Vatican for a meal.
That showed his humble side, according to New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who gave an insider’s look into the hours immediately after Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected.
Dolan said most of the cardinals had taken buses back to their residence in the Vatican and had lined up to greet the new pope as he arrived for their last meal as a group.
They were expecting him to arrive in the limousine that they had seen waiting for him at the base of the Apostolic Palace.
“And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off? It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver ‘That’s OK, I’ll just go with the boys,'” Dolan told reporters at the American seminary in Rome, the North American College.
Inside the residence, during the dinner, Dolan said the new pope showed his humorous side.
“We toasted him and when he toasted us he said: ‘May God forgive you,’ which brought the house down,” he said.
He made them laugh again when he told the cardinals, who held seven days of pre-conclave meetings and two days in the conclave: “I am going to sleep well tonight and something tells me you are too.”
The new pope told the cardinals that on Thursday he would visit Pope Emeritus Benedict at the papal summer retreat south of Rome, visit a Rome basilica and, joking again, Francis said: “I also have to stop by the residence to pick up my luggage and pay the bill.”
Dolan described the emotion inside the Sistine Chapel as Bergoglio reached 77 votes, the two-thirds majority needed to elect him.
“We broke into applause but then we had to wait until the rest of the votes were counted and applauded again at the end and still again when he said he accepted the election,” Dolan said.
Minutes after his election, the new pope went into the Sistine Chapel’s sacristy to change into the white papal vestments.
The sacristy is known as the “room of tears,” because it is there where a new pope first feels the weight of the papacy.
When he came out, a throne-like chair had been set on a platform but Francis preferred to greet the cardinals from a chair at their own level, Dolan said.
The new pope told the 114 cardinals who elected him that he had chosen the name Francis in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, who is known in Catholicism as “the little poor one” because he renounced earthly goods.
There had been some speculation that since Bergoglio is a member of the Jesuit religious order, he may have chosen the name in honour of St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits.
“He quickly clarified that,” Dolan said.
Dolan said the election of Francis will be “a booster shot to the Church in the Americas, a real blessing.”
“There is a sense of relief in all of us because we now have a good new shepherd,” Dolan said. “He is an extraordinarily down-to-earth man … a man of confidence and poise, a beautiful sincerity and simplicity.” (Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)