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October 14, 2014

Get Ready to Throw the Rotten Fruit

The news from the synod–or as much of it as those in charge  want us to hear–is not good at all. It is confusing and extremely depressing. What can we do? Well, I’ll give you two comments from people I trust, and follow them up with one of my own.

The first–as you might expect–is from Fr John Hunwicke of the  Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

I read the document which recently emerged from Rome with increasing disbelief. “Is this some sort of joke?” I wondered. I checked in my diary that the date was not April 1.

What has reassured me is the uproar among the Synod Fathers which followed its publication. One friend has described the Synod as a latrocinium. [He means a “robber council” of the kind which has occurred once or twice in the history of the Church–Stramentarius.] I think this is quite the wrong end of the stick. I don’t think it is “disloyal”  for a Catholic to say that the Holy Father was very poorly advised by those who suggested to him some of the names to be involved in spinning the Synod’s deliberations to the world. And also by those … probably the same lot … who put into his head the idea of making the thing secret. But they have been unable to get away with it. Powerful heads are well above the parapet. The first sign of the impending storm was when Cardinal Mueller made robustly and publicly clear his disagreement with the policy of secrecy. Cardinal Mueller is an able and acute man. He has realised that the Holy Father’s appeal to the Synod Fathers to speak with parrhesia  [that is, saying exactly what they think–Stramentarius] is a factor that can apply in more than one direction. And he is, like Miss Jean Brodie, in his prime. I do not think it will be easy for the malign interests in Rome to sideline him as their fathers did the ailing Cardinal Ottaviani. I will be surprised if heterodox plotters succeed in their attempted coup in the way that those earlier plotters did during the Sessio prima of the Council.

I do not think that “going to the SSPX” is a surefooted option ecclesiologically. What does the Society say about itself? That it is a canonically erected society within the Catholic Church with a certain very important charisma. It does not even claim to be some sort of separate, more “pure” Church than the Church herself. By its own constitution, none of its bishops possesses or claims to possess episcopal jurisdiction. “Going to the SSPX” doesn’t put you behind some sort of Starwars shield which will protect you from incoming missiles. It simply gives your enemies the opportunity of claiming that you always were schismatically inclined. In other words, it blunts your witness.

Catholics have a canonical right to make their concerns known to their pastors, especially to their bishops.

The Sovereign Pontiff himself would wish you to express yourself with parrhesia.

The second comment is from pro-life journalist Hilary White. She works in Rome, and  has an excellent blog called Orwell’s Picnic.,

Gravity works, doesn’t it? It always works all the time. Same with maths. Numbers always turn out the same no matter how you put them together on a page. Logic is the same kind of thing; a syllogism will tell you a true conclusion if you follow its rules, starting with true premises.

If you head off in a particular direction and keep walking along the same path for a long time, if nothing stops you, you will eventually reach your destination.

Fifty  years ago, the Second Vatican Council started the Church off in a direction it was never supposed to go. Many, many people followed along in good faith, assuming that the people in charge knew what they were doing. But a smaller number of others sounded a warning, saying that the direction leads to a deadly falls.

Well, now we are seeing the roaring falls that we have been hearing, and largely not heeding, for all this time. There is still time, of course, to start rowing back and return to the true course. The closer we come to the falls, the harder it will be, but it can still be done.

The only problem is that most of the people we have in charge of the boat are paddling for the falls as hard as they can.

What happens in the next week will be crucial. There are, reportedly, a lot of people in the Synod hall who do not agree with this direction. They now have a sacred duty to make it clear that we do not have to go in this direction, that to do so is disaster. Do they have the strength to force the boat backwards now that the falls is in sight? Do they even have the vision clear enough to understand where we went astray in the first place?

I don’t know. I only know that this is the wrong direction, and I don’t have to follow. Even if I am the only one, I don’t have to go over the falls with them. I seem to have been standing on the shore with my friends shouting at the people in the boat, trying to warn them. But they do seem to be getting further and further away, and the roar of the falls is now so loud, that I wonder if they can hear us at all.

What can I add?.  Well, the liberals always like to quote Cardinal Newman on the importance of consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine, as though one could somehow ascertain the truth from listening to unashamed contraceptors and other dissenters.   No, as the late Doris Manly pointed out, Blessed John Henry meant consulting the faithful–not the unfaithful. However, the  Second Vatican Council got the emphasis right when it reminded us that one of the early church fathers, St  Vincent of Lerins, did teach that the whole body of faithful Catholics, in their cultivated sense of the faith, are one of the guarantors of the church’s teaching authority.

If those governing the Church start saying, or even implying,  things plainly contrary to the words of Our Lord in order to ingratiate themselves with the world, as they appear to  be about to do now on the question of   the indissolubility of marriage, it will be the duty of us layfolk  to defy them–if necessary, to rebuke them publicly.  The trouble is , though, that  Catholics conditioned by the last 50 years of life in the church can’t cope with the idea that a pope or a papally-approved Synod might issue a “policy” that flatly contradicts church teaching.  Many good people would just regard it as a new party line, or even make themselves believe, absurdly,  that the new policy was always the church’s real policy. But we don’t have to go along with this rubbish: the church has got things wrong before. For instance, the Council of Sirmium ,  later condemned, made compromises with the Arian heresy.

So store up the rotten fruit: you may need it to fling at some treacherous mitred heads (metaphorically, of course, and with parrhesia!). 

One comment

  1. The Editorial in yesterday’s secular Daily Telegraph (October 17, 2014 ) in regard to an article in the paper headed “Pope rents out Sistine Chapel for £160,000 for Porsche party” is worth reading . It ends “Pope Francis , famously, is not one to judge. But every man has his limits.”

    Is anything sacred anymore ?

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