Pope Francis on “triumphalism”

What sort of “triumphalism” do you suppose Pope Francis is referring to? What do his words mean? This is from his homily this morning at Mass with personnel from the Vatican publishing house, pharmacy, and perfume shop (didn’t know they had that…):

Pope Francis said “a great temptation” that lurks in the Christian life is triumphalism. “It is a temptation that even the Apostles had,” he said. Peter had it when he solemnly assured that he would not deny Jesus. The people also experienced it after the multiplication of the loaves. “Triumphalism,” the Pope asserted, “is not of the Lord.

The Lord came to Earth humbly; he lived his life for 30 years; he grew up like a normal child; he experienced the trial of work and the trial of the Cross. Then, in the end, he resurrected.” “The Lord teaches that in life not everything is magical, that triumphalism is not Christian,” the Pope said. The life of the Christian consists of a normality that is lived daily with Christ. “This is the grace for which we must ask: perseverance. Perseverance in our walk with the Lord, everyday, until the end,” he stated.

“That the Lord may save us from fantasies of triumphalism,” he concluded. “Triumphalism is not Christian, it is not of the Lord. The daily journey in the presence of God, this is the way of the Lord.”



  1. I’m bewildered that my pals over at the New Liturgical Movement haven’t commented about this (or indeed about anything much at all since March 13, really, especially in Rome) but I sure hope this new-fangled “fantasies of triumphalism” (if EVER there was a name for a blog!) business doesn’t mean I’ll lose my hat and cape!

  2. Sounds to me like he’s simply talking about “hubris” in all its personal, social, and institutional manifestations.

  3. It would be nice to see the full texts of his daily (?) homilies. I’m kinda hooked on the ones I’ve seen so far. I suspect the rest of his homily gives some context to this “triumphalism”.

    From this excerpt — Peter had [this triumphalism] when he solemnly assured that he would not deny Jesus. The people also experienced it after the multiplication of the loaves. — it seems to be related to presumption.

  4. Back in July of 2007, back when several internet priests were noisily guzzling Veuve Cliquot to celebrate the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, a journalist named Gerald Warner published the goofiest, gassiest article on liturgy that I had ever read at the time … in fact that I have ever read. And he published it, not in some obscure traditionalist journal, but in The Scotsman, a Scottish regional newspaper that is certainly “mainstream media”.

    You can find the article here. It is so incredibly bad that it is worth reading.

    Here is a brief excerpt. I think that “triumphalism” as Warner uses it is precisely what Pope Francis was referring to.

    The task facing traditionalists is to claw back, inch by inch, everything that was lost in the 1960s, until the Church is restored to its full integrity. It will mean trench warfare for decades, probably generations; but, for the first time, the heretics are on the defensive and they will be defeated.

    There is a revived spirit infusing the Church, a spirit once defined by GK Chesterton: “I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity)… I am very proud of being orthodox about the mysteries of the Trinity or the Mass; I am proud of believing in the Confessional; I am proud of believing in the Papacy.”

    Triumphalism, so monotonously condemned by the Catholic agnostics, is the only logical response to the glory of the Resurrection. Tremble, all Modernists and you who presumptuously claim We Are Church – the spirit of Trent is abroad once more. Welcome to the Counter-Reformation.

    Pope Benedict himself would never have talked like this, but he stood silent while high church officials gave vent to similar combinations of idiocy and hubris. Pope Francis is demonstrating courage and determination in putting things right.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #4:

      I agree, Jonathan, that the hubris displayed in this article and elsewhere has set many up for a fall. While I strongly disagree with these displays of haughtiness, much of this type of writing thinly covers over some Tridentines’ simmering anger and frustration at the denigration of the Tridentine worldview by others who have sincerely believed that this era was and is past. For not a few Catholics, Trent is still very much a living paradigm.

      Gerald Warner’s following sentence is especially raw: “but, for the first time, the heretics are on the defensive and they will be defeated.” I, as an EF adherent, do not view postmodern/postconciliar liturgical thought as a heretical enemy to be vanquished. I vigorously disagree with Fr. Ruff’s article “Pope Francis’ Liturgical Revolution” (PTB, 22 March) and especially its call for a return to the Ecclesia Dei status quo in the fictitious bull Nobili simplicitate. Unlike Fr. Ruff, I do consider the “extraordinary form” to be a both a parallel liturgy and a parallel way of liturgical life. Even so, no need exists for Warner’s belligerence. EF adherents must learn to understand, cooperate with, and even integrate aspects of the reformed liturgy if it is to not only minimally adhere to Sacrosanctum Concilium but also at the very least communicate with clergy and laity which adhere to the reformed liturgy. If traditionalists do not adapt in this manner, their ecclesiastical cultural aptitude will atrophy to the point where communication with other Catholics is simply impossible.

      It’s time for the Tridentines to leave the fallout shelter. I lived the “indult years”, and could not stand the vitriol and hatred which walled off “the unreformed” from the rest of the Church. Why any person wishes to return to this shellshocked state of affairs, I do not know.

  5. I found the earlier remarks of Francis the more profound, and think that “triumphalism” should be interpreted in terms of them:

    When God touches a person’s heart, he grants a grace that lasts a lifetime; he does not perform some “magic” that lasts but an instant.

    Francis picked up on the words of the Pharisee Gamaliel, …to wait and see what will come of Jesus’ followers. This “is wise advice even for our lives because time is God’s messenger,”

    Pope Francis observed. “God saves us in time, not in the moment. Sometimes he performs miracles, but in ordinary life, he saves us in time… in history … (and) in the personal story” of our lives. The Pope added that God does not act “like a fairy with a magic wand”. Rather, he gives “grace and says, as he said to all those he healed, ‘Go, walk’. He says the same to us: ‘Move forward in your life, witness to everything the Lord does with us’ ”.

    From Ignatius’ Autobiography: (which I think it a better introduction to discernment than the Exercises):

    One night, as he lay awake, (Ignatius) saw clearly the likeness of our Lady with the holy Child Jesus, at the sight of which he received most abundant consolation for a considerable interval of time. He felt so great a disgust with his past life… And from that hour until August of 1553, when this is being written, never again consented to the least suggestion of the flesh. This effect would seem to indicate that the vision was from God, although he never ventured to affirm it positively or claim it was anything more than he had said it was.

    Ignatius here is the ultimate “anti-triumphalist.” One almost gets the impression that if in September of 1553, Ignatius had gravely sinned he might have been compelled to rethink the vision.

    Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

    I am thinking of the disease which is spiritual pride. There is something of this worm in the hearts of all religious men. As soon as they have done something which they know to be good in the eyes of God, they tend to take its reality to themselves and make it their own.

    Even saints, and sometimes saints most of all, waste their lives in competition with one another, in which nothing is found but misery.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #7:

      Instead of brick-by-brick, think foot-by-foot.

      Well, why not both? Perhaps it is time that traditionalist and progressive hermeneutics develop separately but in mutual respect. As has been observed many times, some traditionalists would wish to see the ordinary form and its culture destroyed; the opposite is true from the perspective of some progressives. Maybe ultimately the EF and OF cannot coexist in one rite. Should not all of us at least attempt harmony, and only dissolve the union if the conditions are truly untenable?

      I also know who coined “brick by brick”. While I find that particular blogger to be rather abrasive, nevertheless his statement is apt. The traditionalist focus is definitely centered on the “edifice” of belief (liturgy, architecture, vestments). Karl’s “foot by foot” play on “brick by brick” highlights the progressive focus on the human and subjective in liturgy. It is as if either side holds half the coin of the fullness of Catholic life.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #9:
        “Perhaps it is time that traditionalist and progressive hermeneutics develop … in mutual respect.”

        The mutual respect still happens, but most often in communities where individuals “representing” these ideologies are real flesh-and-blood persons, and not caricatures hiding behind pseudonyms and bile.

        I was struck by James Martin’s description of his life as a Jesuit novice in which men of varied (and often incongruent) backgrounds were jammed together to pray, do chores, share faith, and be formed under the Ignatian system.

        I find extremists less palatable not because of their views so much, as the lack of virtue–prudence, respect, among others, as well as the simple lack of listening skills.

        As for the 1962 and 2002 Missals, you do realize that some of the liturgical strain is not reaching back to the Tridentine sensibility, but to move forward, don’t you? People are very heartened by Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday, and the impact has been felt well beyond liturgy. When was the last time an incarcerated youth wrote to the SSPX in gratitude for the Mass they celebrate?

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #15:

        As for the 1962 and 2002 Missals, you do realize that some of the liturgical strain is not reaching back to the Tridentine sensibility, but to move forward, don’t you?

        In 1958, Bl. John XXIII said Mass for adult male prisoners at the Regina Coeli prison in Rome. Who could say that Pope John was less charitable than Pope Francis? Yes, Pope John did not perform the mandatum. I’m not sure if Pope John let the prisoners kiss his ring, shake his hand, or perform another gesture of respect. Even so, the act of a pontiff or any priest saying Holy Mass for marginalized persons is a great gift, as Mass is the greatest gift ever given to humankind.

        I am saddened that you have conflated mainstream traditional Catholicism with the SSPX. Yes, I agree that the Lefebvist bishops would not even attempt a prison Mass. However, the significance of Pope Francis’s celebration of the mandatum in the juvenile prison in Rome has not escaped me and likely also has not escaped other traditionalists. I realize that Pope Francis’s mandatum is momentous in a number of ways, particularly with regard to gender and liturgy, canon law, rubrics, and the way in which popes interact with a diverse range of the faithful. Any person, regardless of liturgical persuasion, who does not recognize the importance of Pope Francis’s gesture is rather insensitive.

        Insensitivity and sentimentality are quite different temperaments. Grace is overabundant every day in the sacraments of both forms. Why should Pope Francis’s act, which is no less merciful than any other mercy, become a sentimental touchstone which elevates the pontiff’s celebration of the OF above the EF or even other celebrations of the OF? This latter sentiment is rather misguided, as it replaces a proper understanding of grace with pathos.

      3. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #9:
        You misread me. Rather, foot-by-foot can apply to both the EF and OF (just as brick-by-brick can apply to both). I would say BBB is prone to get stuck in a materialist (including intellectual) perspective; FBF is more personal (and more capable of beholding the ontological and mystical).

        I think my subjective reception of your varied expressions of appreciation for the EF is this: that you need (not merely want) a liturgical expression of BEHOLDING – the kind of beholding that comes from deep love. But ultimately, beholding not a thing but a Person – the Body of Christ (not just in the Sacrament of the Altar, but in the totality of the liturgical mystery). Apologies if I misunderstand, but that’s been my take (and you will note it’s a take that a progressive should be able to happily engage and validate.) To be clear, I do not think this is more difficult in the OF, of course; but I understand from your subjective cognitive perspective why it would be so for you and others similarly situated.

        And for those who believe that the liturgy is not a medium for beholding (but not only beholding), I suggest a quick cure from disjunctive habits of engagement. Beholding is one of the most important modes of being: it’s contemplation in action, for it gives us the freedom from objectifying others. It’s a deeply progressive value, as it were.

        I find talk of liturgical apartheid, however, to be destructive, and something that should be nipped at with vigor.

      4. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #18:

        Sincerely, I thank you Karl for pointing this distinction out. You have found the heart of the matter. I must say that all I write henceforth is only my experience.

        I view myself as a subject of Jesus Christ. He is the Sovereign Creator, the Eternal Lawgiver, and the Judge. He is Rex and Pantocrator without compromise. And yet, Christ the Lord is also the Sacred Heart, eternal and inexaustible mercy for a fallen humanity. For traditionalists, the two aspects can never be separated. It’s not a matter of Angry God and Happy God, as if a dualism exists. Rather Rex and Coeur are two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the infinitely faceted Trinity.

        Service to the Lord includes service to one another. Compassion and mercy are imperative. Even so, human service cannot replace the Cross and its re-presentation. Compassion cannot be understood without the Cross. As the Holy Cross preface proclaims, qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur, “He [the devil] who conquered by a tree was also conquered on The Tree”. Christ conquered death, but not without his Passion. Similarly, without passing through our passions, we cannot serve one another. All that we do is guided by the example of the paschal mystery, even if aspects of this mystery are fearsome or unpalatable.

        I understand a notional or intellectual understanding of the Body of Christ as present in worship. The renewed emphasis on this aspect of mystery in the reformed Mass, however, has not struck me as not desirable beyond a certain point. I remember once talking about Marian veneration on PTB, and the way in which chancel roods have influenced my understanding of Mass. I remarked that the statue of the Blessed Virgin to the left of Christ crucified reminds me how Mary is the model of how to reverence Christ, and how Mary helps me understand how to adore Christ. I was accused of being sexist (perhaps because I mistakenly pictured Mary as kneeling. On most roods, she is standing. Perhaps this is why I was accused of being sexist. The hurt that this image may have caused I must ask forgiveness for, even if hurt is sincerely unintended.) Even so, how can be we a Body of Christ without personal and corporate imitation of the Holy Theotokos? A Body without Our Lady’s intercession is a body without purpose, without form, with no piety to imitate.

        In the reformed rite see a grave imbalance towards individualism, a de-emphasis on Marian piety and reverence for the saints, and a lack of willingness on behalf of some preachers to preach the Pantocrator, even if following the King is most difficult. The Ordinary Form on paper has not caused these imbalances. The practice of the reformed rite has, in many cases strayed far from the deceptively simple but actually profound piety fostered by the unreformed liturgical culture.

      5. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #19:

        When I teach the Lord’s prayer, I start with beholding: God in heaven, ‘away’ from here, set apart, hallowed. But there is a transition in prayer from beholding to being with. We end the prayer forgiving alongside God who forgives. Our gaze is on those who trespass, tempt us, the evil., as God’s gaze was on us at the beginning. Without that transformation, prayer is incomplete.

        It is the Theotokos who is at the Cross. The woman who carries Christ within her is the one who sees him crucified. Mary is the one who sees the evil done, and sees her Son. She gives birth, the epitome not just looking with but of active involvement.

        And it is the EF that emphasizes individualism. It has replaced the centurion’s concern for his servant with a selfish focus on the individual being healed. At least that is my opinion.

  6. Cardinal Kasper has a very good article on Vatican II in the current issue of L’Osservatore Romano. In it he seems to appreciate Pope Benedict’s 2005 speech about interpreting the Council within the context of “reform or renewal within continuity.” He also seems to refer to the Pontiff Emeritus’ talk a few days prior to his departure when Benedict said, “”the misinterpretation of the Council created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy.”

    Of course the Holy Father Emeritus was speaking of the “misinterpretation of the Council” not about the Council itself and what was actually taught and authentically interpreted by the Church.
    I think what Pope Francis is referring to in terms of triumphalism is the “misinterpretation” of many things, whether that be Scripture and Tradition as he pointed out today to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, or the misinterpretation of Christ as the people who witnessed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish did of Christ afterward or the misinterpretation of even St. Peter and his personal faith when he eventually denied Christ.

    Misinterpretation of many things, including God, ourselves and even the Council taught as truth, ultimate truth, is the triumphalism that “is not Christian” and is to quote Jonathan Day, “combinations of idiocy and hubris.” This is not the monopoly of the right but also and very sadly of the left for about 50 years too. Like Pope Benedict, Pope Francis is going to give the key to the right interpretation of the Council and this may well lead to a new springtime for the Church that has not occurred in the last 50 years.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #8:
      You might want to check on the earlier post by Fr. Joncas – SC Article #41 – the third comment referenced Cdl Kasper’s presentation long before you cite it today.

      And yet, your comment is disingenuous given your other comments about Francis, liturgy, and his style:

      “In many ways Pope Francis is quite Bohemian (a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices) modeling the “theology of rupture” that Pope Benedict wanted to move the Church away from. Pope Francis has done so, I firmly believe, not in the substance of Pope Benedict’s doctrines but in Pope Benedict’s style of liturgy and papacy. So we see the trappings of the papacy reduced and minimized by Pope Francis. We see him liturgically a bit neanderthal reaching back to the 1970’s. We see Pope Francis a bit eccentric in his obsession with simplicity and lack of humility in wearing the dress of the papacy that is more monarchical looking and maybe a bit “prissy.”

      Jonathan – found your clip from Warner above to highlight exactly what Allan is saying and doing in Macon. Sad – as Allan says, “….fifty years of idiocy and hubris and no springtime.” Really – sad, sad.

  7. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father except through me”

    Is that a triumphalist statement?

    If not, what is?

    Is it wrong to proclaim, “I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously. Pharoah’s hosts and his chariots he hath cast into the sea!”

    or “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ”


    If you do not believe, you shall not be saved.

    But, of course, as you know, we don’t have to follow every word of a Pope.

    1. @Christopher Douglas – comment #11:
      Christ is entitled to be triumphant. The rest of us? Not so much.

      Even in Exodus the Lord is the triumphant one, and the singing is more a matter of praise and thanksgiving because we certainly weren’t saved because we were faithful and worthy.

      Praise is not the same thing as self righteousness or triumphalism and I don’t think the Holy Father was saying that it was.

  8. Chris O’Grady comment #1- I suspect we can grandfather your hat and cape in, no matter what! If Cardinal Burke can wear it, why can’t you? And if it does get supressed, perhaps the pope can give you a special dispensation – or even your own motu proprio – imagine that.

  9. Christopher Douglas : “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father except through me” Is that a triumphalist statement? If not, what is?

    I find these words of Jesus’ exactly the opposite of triumphalist. I find in them the promise that a divine being condescends to become a person for us so that we human beings, in imitation of the person of Jesus, may seek relationships with God.

    But I think of the pope’s use of triumphalism, in contrast to persevering in a relationship, as signifying some magical assurance of salvation, such as I associate with the (often triumphantly spoken) words of one of my evangelical friends: “Jesus Christ is my personal savior.” (She’s been saved; it’s forever a done deal!) In the words of Camp’s song, it’s “takin’ heaven by storm” rather than by patient, persistent openness to encountering God.

    It’s also another delusion, that “the way” can be set into a formula, that we can banish insecurity and unpredictability from life by following prescribed steps, as some of my Catholic friends seem to think. I’ve seen the interpretation of ex ecclesia nulla salus change twice in my lifetime, but I’ve never thought it meant that inside the Church one is assured of salvation, though I still hear some interpret it triumphantly this way. Neither a once-for-all memorable experience of redeeming grace nor a formulaic approach to salvation is “the way, the truth, and the life,” though we might be tempted to think so.

  10. Well, these thoughts are great, and they sound just like what Cardinal Ratzinger / B16 often said. It’s always great to highlight comments by the Pope and these are important thoughts, but somehow I get the sense from these postings that they are supposed to somehow indicate that the new Pope is zinging traditionalism and B16. That would only be true if you set up a caricature. The idea of religious freedom and the wholly evangelical mission of the Church has been central to B16 thought, and this is clear from the whole of his literary output. He has always struck me as a solid 19th-century-style liberal, not just in a passing way but in a way that is absolutely central to his understanding of the world. By the way, this is precisely why the extremist elements in the traddy world (the “triumphalists,” if you will) never liked B16 and they don’t like Pope Francis either. Still, despite all the hullabaloo, I cannot find any substantive or seriously meaningful rupture between the current and former Pope. There are differences in personal style and approach but even these are exaggerated it seems.

    1. @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #22:
      Jeffrey, I think you’re fudging the data, and doing ‘damage control’ by downplaying the very real differences between Benedict and Francis.

      Of course there’s continuity – they’re both Catholic popes, for heaven’s sake. There was also continuity, lots of it, between Pius XII and John XXIII.

      I observe in the traddy world, at Rorate Coeli, for example, that the most traddy people, the ones most skeptical of Vatican II (in their own words) are consistently the ones who most liked Benedict XVI. Just go read the comments.

      You mention religious freedom. Just one anecdote – not directly about religious freedom but not unrelated either – shows the difference between Francis and his predecessor. When Pope Benedict met with all the journalists after his election, he actually had them all say the Our Father before he blessed them. Not exactly respectful of the wide variety of views in the room. What did Francis do? Explained why he respected all their beliefs, then prayed in silence, then simply said “God bless you” without a formal blessing. This is just one example of many that suggest to most people that the differences in Francis – alongside all the continuity – are real, substantive differences from Benedict.

      The marked difference in liturgical ethos, the throwing out overnight of all these archaic, precious, pompous things of the sort Benedict liked to revive – this too is substantive. Those of us in liturgy, of all people, know that rituals and symbols aren’t just superficial ephemera – they’re substantive.

      Where it will go – I make no predictions. I don’t know how much Francis will decentralize (as V2 called for!), how much he’ll undo the centralism of JPII, as increased by B16. I don’t know how much he’ll reform the curia, a task that B16 failed abysmally at.

      I only know what I’ve seen so far. And it’s not nothing.


  11. You might want to schedule an education class for Allan – he who calls the pope’s style *bohemian* and *Neanderthal* – of course, this has to be *rightly understood* and in *continuity* – the new buzz word for traddies.

  12. #17 & 21.

    The newsreel of Pope John XXIII’s visit to Regina Coeli on 26 December 1958 is well worth watching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kakdCdZBXwg The part in the prison begins about two minutes in. I always find the brief off-the-cuff words of Pope John very moving. He says that he is in God’s house, and recalls a memory from childhood when one of his relatives was sent to prison.

  13. I am not convinced by Fr. Anthony’s gloating. Pope Bergoglio is a pastor not an academic and his pastoral skills are with the poor, which I hope includes the rich that are sometimes extremely poor in faith and morals. It seems Fr. Anthony elevates pastoral theology to a super-dogma, whereas most of us know that pastoral theology has no set doctrine but is simply a multifaceted theology. In non-essential elements in the pastoral like of the Church it makes very little difference to the doctrines or dogmas of the Church if the authority of the Church is centralized or decentralized although both have pastoral issues that are more political than doctrinal, more related to power rather than humility. I doubt seriously that Pope Francis will make decisions regarding dogma and doctrine to become decentralized and undermined in the process. But I suspect the status quo as it concerns liturgy and style of vestments, especially the alb will remain as they always have been decentralized to the extreme, from priest to priest. In fact Pope Francis models that from pope-to-pope. The same is true of ecumenism and interfaith relations. How decentralized is that? Very! In my own diocese some priests have a gift and ethos for ecumenism and interfaith relations (which I have done in my 33 years) and others won’t touch it.
    Pope Benedict lived in the ivory tower of academia for most of his priesthood and thrived there. Nothing he did as pope did he make a super-dogma, not his love for the “pompous” or his disdain for “false ecumenism and interfaith relations” or his pastoral outreach to the SSPX and disenfranchised Anglicans. He had a different style of ecumenism both within the Church with those still linked to the papacy and those who aren’t.
    What no one has commented on here as though they can’t deal with it is Pope Francis as Bergogolio challenging the clericalization of the laity and calling them to an authentic, less churchy, less liturgical lay evangelization. That is substantive!

  14. I would only say, that to reduce pastoral theology as sort of a “second-rate” lens, would seem to be an insult to Vatican II. Pastoral Theology, Nathan Mitchell once said, is not “watered-down” theology, rather, it is corrective.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #32:
        To Bill deHaas – I don’t know where you have determined that I have a “usual approach to Vatican II.” I have never said that Vatican II was only a pastoral council – but to deny its pastoral tone and approach, well, is a big pill to swallow.

        I personally believe that Pope Francis’ “style” and “actions” are, in a way, are proclaiming a certain theological lens…

    1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #28:
      Unless Pope Francis is the last pope before the Second Coming, who is to say that triumphalism won’t return? As Pope Francis said yesterday, perhaps none of us should make triumphalism or humility idols or false gods. Both should point to God not the person, whether that person be a pope or not.
      And to David Haas, hopefully not related to “dehaas” who says that pastoral theology is second rate? That is how bishops and priests minister and depending on the theology has ramifications in real life. I’m all in favor of pastoral theology, just don’t make it a dogma because it can’t be made into one.

      1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #29:
        Huh? Don’t make humility into an idol or false god? Were did he say that?? Quote, please.

        Of course triumphalism might return – I make no predictions. I’m talking about THIS pope.

        No one is making pastoral theology into “dogma” (whatever that means), and no one is confusing the two except you.

        I think you’re trying to downplay the significance of Pope Francis’s changes by saying their “only” pastoral theology. And you’re trying to forestall that he’ll make changes in doctrine or dogma – but I don’t know anyone who expects he will.

        Here’s what I think is going on with this extraordinary pope:
        1. At the level of ‘style’ (is that what you mean by ‘pastoral theology’?), Francis is undoing the Reform of the Reform mannerisms of Benedict and returning big-time to simplicity. This is ‘only’ about symbols… but liturgists know it’s more than that.
        2. At the level of collegiality, we don’t yet know whether he’ll decentralize administration (that’s what I’m talking about, not doctrine or dogma) and give more authority to bishops and bishops’ conferences. What we have so far are many indicators, such as his calling himself “Bishop of Rome” more than “Pope,” treating others ‘below’ him as equals and relating to them more informally, calling a reform commission of cardinals with only one from curia. As indicators, this is a lot. Where it will go, we don’t know.
        3. So-called ‘liberals’ have low expectations, which is why there is so much joy that Pope Francis has so greatly exceeded them. As to whether he will in the future, Heidi Schlumpf at NCR is appropriately cautious: http://ncronline.org/news/people/great-not-too-great-expectations
        I wish Fr. Z would read this – one of his tropes is that liberals are expecting all these doctrinal changes and their hopes will be smashed. I don’t know any such liberals.

        I see you downplaying the symbol changes, or digging around to find little scraps of continuity, and also downplaying the signs he’s giving about collegiality.


      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #30:
        What about the communique today from the CDF concerning the LCWR and the role of the Magisterium as taught by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium and Pope Francis reaffirming “the finds of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors”?
        Of course, Rorate Caeli is the first to gloat over that. 🙂

        Pope Francis was speaking of idols in general, I made the pastoral application. 😉

  15. Again, changing the subject – really, a pastoral application after you dismissed these?

    The usual approaches – pastoral council; taking one document out of context; semantics (rightly understood, of course):


    Key points:

    – “Although O’Malley is too polite to suggest it (at least directly), the danger of this practice is that there may lurk beneath this neglect of the “integral corpus” of the council, a sectarian disposition, a virus called “cafeteria conciliarism.”
    – “The council indeed “democratized” the injunction to holiness. As “Lumen Gentium” declares: “all the faithful of Christ, of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” This constitutive vocation of the disciple transcends and unites particular callings within the church. At the same time, this call is less a “privilege,” something about which one might boast, than a responsibility, a response to a call that evokes both gratitude and awe.”
    – “One experiences another instance of forgetfulness of Christ in many of the overheated debates regarding the council’s liturgical teaching. Thus the “full, conscious, and active participation” at stake is our participation in the paschal mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus—a much more challenging and compelling prospect than the parceling out of ministerial responsibilities, however important these may be.”
    – “O’Malley presents a nuanced discussion of the three principles that generated the dynamic of the council. These are ressourcement, development and aggiornamento. Concerning ressourcement, the principle of returning to and recovering the earliest witnesses to the Christian faith, embodied in the Scriptures and early fathers of the church, he writes: “Of the three categories, ressourcement was the most traditional yet potentially the most radical.”

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