An era that has passed away

Pope Francis’s comments to the board of the Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosas y Religiosos (CLAR),  have gained widespread media attention. The Pope’s remarks were recorded by the participants, and later published in the Chilean newspaper Reflexión y Liberación. The subsequent translation of the remarks into English by the traditionalist blog Rorate Coeli has gained them wide attention. Stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times and other news outlets have followed. The Vatican Press Office has not denied the accuracy of the report, although CLAR has published a statement saying the notes were published without permission.

The “gay lobby”

The greatest “news value” of the Pope’s remarks seems at present to be a comment affirming the existence of a network of corruption within the Vatican. A secret report assembled by three Cardinals under Pope Benedict was alleged at the time of its writing to have contained information about insiders who used information about gay identity and activity as a tool of blackmail, in order to gain influence and political advantage. The sensational, although misleading tag applied to this phenomenon has been the “gay lobby.” (To “lobby” suggests special interest pleading for a specific constituency, rather than extortion.) This was vigorously denied at the time, but in this conversation with Pope Francis, he reportedly acknowledged its existence.

Religious and the CDF

The second most attention-getting comment from the Pope concerns religious and their relationship to the CDF. His encouragement to them to go forward with their mission, in a prophetic manner, despite investigations and even censure from the CDF, is remarkable news, especially in light of the current investigation of the LCWR. What the Pope seems to be saying is that he affirms the religious in their own discernment of what is needed. He advised them to cooperate but not to give up their prophetic witness and mission to the poor.

Pelagians and Gnostics

Of less interest to the secular press, but of great interest to Rorate Coeli and others who are watching the  attitude of Pope Francis toward traditionalism, were his comments about two trends: Pelagian and Gnostic. The example he gave of the first was from a Restorationist milieu:

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council… One feels in 1940… An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting… And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through – not you, because you are not old – to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today…

The second example he gave was from a New-Age-influenced milieu:

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms… Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite… I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that… They concern me because they ignore the incarnation!

[You can read the full transcript here.]

The journalist Andrea Torinelli, writing in Vatican Insider, has pointed out that Pope Benedict also criticized Pelagianism, the “Pelagianism of the pious” as he called it.

Of course, it can easily be pointed out that (A) not all traditionalists are restorationists, (B) not all traditionalists are Pelagian, (C) not all educated elites are Gnostic or Pantheistic, and (C) not all educated religious are in immanent danger of forgetting the incarnation.

What’s New

So, what is really new here? What is different? The most significant point, it seems to me, is in the framing of the discussion, and it stands in contrast to the themes most associated with Benedict’s pontificate: continuity and restoration.

It is clear that Pope Francis does not want to go back 60 years, to a time before the Council. He does not want to restore practices from a bygone era, or claim continuity with them. Significantly, he has named that era as one which has passed away. This seems so obvious to him that he doesn’t argue it. It is self-evident. 

101 comments

  1. True progress is in trusting the Spirit

    Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/06/12/pope_at_mass:_true_progress_is_in_trusting_the_spirit/en1-700777
    of the Vatican Radio website

    “This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are ‘safer’ going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward, which gives us this trust – as Paul says – which is more demanding because Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law”. It is more demanding! But it does not give us that human security. We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation. ”

    Pope Francis noted that there is another temptation: that of “adolescent progressivism”, that de-rails us. This temptation lies in seeing a culture and “not detaching ourselves from it”.

    “We take the values of this culture a little bit from here, a little bit from there , … They want to make this law? Alright let’s go ahead and make this law. Let’s broaden the boundaries here a little. In the end, let me tell you, this is not true progress. It is adolescent progressivism: just like teenagers who in their enthusiasm want to have everything and in the end? You slip up … It’s like when the road is covered in ice and the car slips and go off track… This is the other temptation at the moment!

    We, at this moment in the history of the Church, we cannot go backwards or go off the track! “

    These comments (mediations from his morning Mass, concelebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, accompanied by priests, religious and lay staff of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life) almost seem to have been designed as Francis take on these media reports. Again largely confirming them but also giving us insight.

    I think Francis has decided to become his own chief leaker and vatican insider.

    Fundemental to his approach seems to be humility, that we are all sinners, we all make mistakes. We are going to continue to make mistakes. He expressed his own hope that he would not make too many mistakes in reforming the Curia. Certianly acknowledged he did not have the talent for doing that, but also his determination that reform has to be done and will be done. Both left and right are going to be uncomfortable because the one thing unacceptable is to think that you could not possibly be mistaken.

  2. At the Chiesa blog, Sandro Magister has some astute observations:
    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1350536?eng=y

    Whatever direction forward the Bishop of Rome is leading us, he is the one making the way forward and expects obedience to Holy Mother Church and her Magisterium, the Bishop of Rome and the other bishops in union with him. That in and of itself is a form of restoration that will gladden the hearts of some and dismay others but could lead to Catholic unity.

    Magister states the following in the link above:

    “Bergoglio is also a Jesuit, and by now his actions have made it clear that he intends to apply to the papacy the methods of governance typical of the Society of Jesus, where the superior general, nicknamed the “black pope,” has practically absolute power.

    His reticence in attributing to himself the name of pope and his preference for calling himself as bishop of Rome have made champions of the democratization of the Church rejoice.

    But theirs is a blunder. When Francis, on April 13, appointed eight cardinals “to advise him in the governance of the universal Church and to study a project for the revision of the Roman curia,” he selected them according to his own judgment.”

    I’m also fascinated by his using two heretical practices to make his point concerning the extremes in today’s Church. I’m not sure Pope Benedict ever went that far during his papacy calling something heretical.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #2:
      Not restoration, Allan, and Pope Francis is not talking about obedience.

      It seems from this comment that you are desperately trying to change the subject or drag some red herrings across our path. No good.

  3. Sandro Magister and the rest of the Vatican insiders are anachronistic.
    If we want to know the mind of Francis we need only check out his morning meditations, that is very Jesuit.

    Magister not Francis is the Machiavellian.

  4. I really like the way you give context to the “gay lobby,” a phrase that many people that I have spoken to, cling to in a negative way – in either ideological direction.

    His words give me hope; I spent time, too much time most likely, not allowing myself to feel hope at the beginning of his papacy. But hope is what I feel today, and I am hopeful that will continue. I may not love every word that falls from his lips, but I trust and I hope.

  5. Really, Allan – you say:

    “I’m not sure Pope Benedict ever went that far during his papacy calling something heretical.”

    Hummmm….why don’t you ask the more than 50+ theologians who were silenced or *suspended* by Benedict during his reign at CDF and pope? Have you forgotten how often your *kerfuffle* site trumpets that the LCWR is *heretical* or any priest group or any priest from the 60/70s who may have *experimented*?

    And to say that Jesuits or the Jesuit general has almost *absolute power* indicates your complete ignorance about the Jesuit order; its governance, etc. (repeating rumors or misguided allegations really doesn’t do anything but spread more ignorance).

    As Rita stated…..you do seem to be desperate.

  6. As the folks at Rorate point out, Magister as a commentator is someone who was deeply “in” with the previous regime, and now not so much but needing to act as if he is; the point being to be careful about putting too much credit in his interpretations of things.

    That said, I think it’s prudent to avoid overinterpreting Francis, tempting as it is to do so. My own read of “gay lobby” is that it has to do with more conventional patronage networking and curial cliques, none of which have been shown to be working in favor of any secular gay agenda (in fact, if anything, there is evidence that periodically members of those cliques have been quite involved in throwing that agenda under the bus).

  7. What is often ignored is that many of Francis’ favored practices have been at one time or another post-vatican ii been consigned to a ‘bygone era’, he clearly values traditional devotions, asking the Patriarch of Lisbon to publicly consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, he promotes Eucharistic Adoration, and is a great proponent of individual confession. He has a Marian piety that rivals John Paul II.

  8. “It is clear that Pope Francis does not want to go back 60 years, to a time before the Council. He does not want to restore practices from a bygone era, or claim continuity with them. Significantly, he has named that era as one which has passed away. This seems so obvious to him that he doesn’t argue it. It is self-evident.”

    The lack of expository argument may have less to do with this being the “self-evident” understanding of the Holy Father and more to do with the fact that these remarks were made in an intimate, informal setting. There is arguably less need to, well, substantively argue in such a milieu. And so we don’t really know what the Holy Father would argue at length.

    I think this posting on PrayTell is so much reading tea leaves. This isn’t to say other blogs don’t do the same, but merely to point it out.

    1. @Christopher Queen – comment #9:

      Christopher you posted:” I think this posting on PrayTell is so much reading tea leaves”
      Uh, that’s what the man said, not some second guessing.

      The more confident he becomes, as with any pontiff, the more he will put his mark on things and it seem obvious that he doesn’t care much for going backwards. As he stated in the anecdote he shared, “this concerns me”.

      He was elected exactly 12 weeks ago today, he is just getting started!

  9. Yes, lots of tea leaves here and elsewhere and wishful, fuzzy thinking. Who wants to go back 60, 50, 40, 30, 20 or 10 years? We live in the present and move forward. Ours is a different Church compared to 8 years ago and will be different 8 years hence, hopefully more faithful and obedient allow fidelity to move us forward in service to these and the world. I’m with the Bishop of Rome and my bishop in this.

  10. Please – this is what you have been posting:

    “I’ve been saying all along and alone, until now, that even though the Bishop of Rome has stripped himself of the regalia of “monarchy” that His Holiness will become perhaps the most monarchical pope ever. His actions and decision making process have become the tiara, mozzetta, red shoes, lace and Sedia Gestatoria of His papacy! Not wearing these has disarmed the left, rallied the right and has become the Trojan Horse of victory!”

    Really – talk about reading tea leaves or *fuzzy thinking*……one thinks about the word, *hypocrisy* in terms of Allan comments.

    OR, more kerfuffles –

    “The traditionalists, like the SSPX, are highly organized, highly motivated and sometimes (not always) highly fanatical. They are rigid in their approach and think that it is infallible. They can easily go into schism because they are so organized as SSPX proves. But of course, like all of Protestantism, this neo-Protestantism against the Magisterium of the Church also fragments and splinters. But they have bishops that assist in this.

    Then think of the wacky left. They aren’t fanatical, they are wacky. Think of WomenChurch and those groups who are “ordaining” women, pushing for actively gay clergy, gay marriage and opposition to Sacred Scripture, Tradition and natural law. How can anyone really take these people seriously. They are disorganized, hate structures of authority and can never become like the SSPX, never! Many of these who promote the wacky agenda are academics living in the world of academia and part of that ultra-clericalist culture.”

    You have a strange way of defining *more faithful* and *obedient*!!

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #14:

        The critter is obviously being circumspect, very very circumspect, perhaps even obsessively so.

        When I was a Jesuit novice before Vatican II, being circumspect was an important virtue, which we defined as “looking around to see who is listening before you speak!”

        The critter bears a striking resemblance to some very, very circumspect Jesuits of the fifties variety.

  11. I can see what Pope Francis is saying about the counting of Rosaries – this rubs me the wrong way too, but only in a certain sense. I have also participated in spiritual bouquets that were counted, and the total numbers offered in a card to the person in question. I remember praying for one priest who was in the hospital with a painful and dangerous, debilitating condition. I like to think that it is a great comfort in such circumstances to receive a card showing that many, many people are making the commitment to pray for you specifically.

    The point being, I can see the value in counting prayers, and also the pitfalls of doing it in some kind of legalistic and mechanical sense. I’m pretty sure Pope Francis can see both sides of the question as well. The problem is that a remark to a certain gathering seems pretty one-sided and rude when broadcast worldwide. Whatever our thoughts on prayer counting, the proper public response when presented with such a list is “thank you.” Also, as he has only been in office for 12 weeks now, it is probably pretty obvious which group he is talking about (to that group, at least), and there is a high likelihood of hurt feelings.

    An important part of the learning curve must be the growing awareness that you don’t have any private conversations or remarks as pope. Everything you say (that has any controversial possibilities) will be immediately broadcast worldwide. The pope as a person is on greater display now than at any time in history, and I think that it is unwise to read too much into each and every comment.

    I am very interested to see what his first encyclical will be.

  12. Looking at the latest issue of The Tablet (15 June 2013), here’s Robert Mickens’ take on the “gay lobby” issue and how it arose out of Pope Francis’ preference for spontaneous conversation:

    There are dangers, of course. Papa Bergoglio speaks mostly in a language that he knows but is not his main language, so sometimes the nuances have to be deciphered. On one occasion when he did speak in his own Spanish, in the case of his private meeting with leaders of the regional confederation of religious orders in Latin America (Clar), he allegedly confirmed highly publicised rumours that there’s a “gay lobby” inside the Roman Curia.

    A word of caution: “lobby” here is not used in the same sense as in English, which means an organised interest or pressure group. Here it means a presence, and undoubtedly there is a significant number of homosexual men in the Curia (as in the priesthood, in general).

    But they are not part of a well-organised group pushing an agenda. On the contrary, they often work perniciously against each other in a checkmate of mutual recrimination. Whether chastely celibate or sexually active, gays in the Vatican tend to be secretive, careful and isolated from each other. That’s another problem.

    I hope Pope Francis keeps speaking out! What he says has been tremendously encouraging and exciting. And I would love to see a collection of his off-the-cuff homilies from his morning Mass. Or if not that, a collection of the articles from L’Osservatore Romano about the homilies.

  13. Well, another bombshell from the circumspect Archbishop of Rome as he tells the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, that the Archbishop of Rome approves of the Emeritus Archbishop of Rome’s authorization of the Anglican Ordinariate and its patrimony now available to the Church of Rome. This sounds like Pope Francis doesn’t want to go back even a couple of years prior to the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate.

    This is what the Archbishop of Rome said directly to the face of the Archbishop of Canterbury just this morning, among other things:

    “I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.”

    Hermeneutic of Continuity anyone? I wonder if this also applies to the liberal moving forward of with the 1962 missal and enabling “spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the [1962 Roman Missal’s] patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the [entire] Catholic world”? God is Good.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #21:
      More spin, Allan? No, it wasn’t a *bombshell* except in your self-referential world.

      Please – here is the complete record of the conversation – this puts it into proper context and effectively minimizes your *spin* and biased interpretation: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/06/14/pope_francis_and_archbishop_of_canterbury_pledge_to_work_togethe/en1-701502

      Here is what you skipped over or refuse to understand:

      Francis: “The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church, the Pope said, is “ complex and not without pain” But he said the theological dialogue, through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and the growth of friendships at every level, “have enabled us to remain on course even when great difficulties have arisen”. The Pope noted with gratitude the efforts of the Church of England to “understand the reasons” why Pope Benedict set up the Ordinariate for former Anglicans – a move which strained relations when the surprise announcement was made back in 2009.”

      Suggest that Francis was *apologizing* for prior Catholic decisions that only created pain and added to differences. Francis then went on to *thank and compliment* Anglican leadership for not over-reacting to these prior decisions.

      Sorry, not much *hermeneutic of continuity* – rather, an explanation and indirect apology.

      And, as usual, you take something out of context and change the subject back to one of your pet projects (1962 missal) – as Rita said earlier – *kind of desperate*.

      1. @Gerard Flynn – comment #28:
        For an even more exhaustive description of the meeting:

        http://www.thetablet.co.uk/latest-news/5406

        Key points:
        – Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin addressed each other publicly as “brother” and each spoke of the need of Anglicans and Catholics to witness to the Christian faith together amid the challenges posed by modern society. After the meeting they joined several dozen representatives of the Anglican and English Catholic communities in Rome for a simple midday prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours in one of the Pope’s private chapels in the Apostolic Palace. They and their delegations then had lunch together at the nearby Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Francis resides.
        – The Anglican leader later told reporters that the morning’s closed-door talks, assisted by a translator, dealt mostly with spirituality, prayer and common Christian witness. He said he and the Pope did not discuss the ordinariate in that session. An aide said that during the luncheon Francis suggested he and the archbishop should issue a joint statement on human trafficking.

        Sure sounds different than the Allan spin – in reality, the ordinariate was ignored.

  14. The “meditations” are all together on the Vatican Website.

    The link below although specific actually takes you to the general Vatican website where you choose your language, e.g. English.

    That then takes you to the main menu. Immediately to the left of the holy father’s picture on your screen will be a list of Focus items, the first one being the Annus Fidei, immediately underneath are the Daily Meditations of the Holy Father

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/index_en.htm

    pressing that will bring you to the list, which is in reverse chronological order the most recent at the top, something like a blog! It takes a few days for them to get from the Vatican Press website to this archive website.

    I find the title fascinating

    MEDITATIONS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
    DURING THE DAILY MASSES CELEBRATED IN THE
    CHAPEL OF THE DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

    Note these are not called homilies. Francis does get up early in the morning for his hour of meditation customary for Jesuits. Francis seems to want to keep both the personal character of these meditations as well as the immediate spontaneous social character of their delivery.

    He seems to want to avoid them being interpreted either as authoritative teaching or as policy. So when he mentions as he has that “Peter did not have a bank account” that does not necessarily mean that he is going to abolish the “Vatican Bank”

    I find it fascinating that both Francis and Benedict have had to distance themselves from the Petrine Office in order to communicate effectively. Benedict has emphasized that his books on the Life of Jesus are merely the reflections of a theologian and should be received as such, including criticism. In both cases Francis and Benedict are putting a great deal of time into something which they are denying is really “Papal.” That says something about how our exagerrated view of the Papacy has become an obstacle to the Popes being effective communicators.

  15. The Spirit is not subdued
    Tuesday, 16 April 2013

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20130416_spirit_en.html

    “Today is Benedict XVI’s birthday. We offer the Mass for him, that the Lord may be with him, comfort him and give him much consolation

    The Pope found inspiration in the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles (7:51-8:1a). “Stephan’s words are strong”, he began: ‘You stiff-necked people… you always resist the Holy Spirit.

    Even among us, the Pontiff added, we see manifestations of this resistance to the Holy Spirit.

    Actually, “to get to the point, the Holy Spirit annoys us, because he moves us”, he explained, “he makes us travel, he pushes the Church forward. And we are like Peter at the Transfiguration: ‘Oh, how wonderful it is for us to be here, all together!’ as long as it does not inconvenience us.

    We would like the Holy Spirit to doze off. We want to subdue the Holy Spirit. And that just will not work. For he is God and he is that wind that comes and goes, and you do not know from where.

    He is the strength of God; it is he who gives us consolation and strengthen to continue forward. To go forward! And this is bothersome. Convenience is nicer. You all could say: ‘But Father, that happened in those times. Now we are all content with the Holy Spirit’. No, that is not true! This is still today’s temptation

    The image of the journey, the pilgrim Church, is strong and recurrent, and therefore gives a forward rather than a restorationist flavor to Francis.

    Francis is far more worried about the dangers of the convenience of the here and now than the dangers of making a mistake by moving forward.

  16. Most interesting to me were the pictures. Pope Francis was seated in a circle with the delegates, all on identical or similar chairs in the middle of the room, no aides, just, seemingly, a group of folks having a chat. The group picture shows a man in a coat and tie, two men in clergy shirts and suits (no cassock or habit), and three women, presumably religious, all without veils and one in slacks. I’m reminded of O’Malley’s “What Happened at Vatican II” showing how the style of things can become substance.

  17. “He does not want to restore practices from a bygone era, or claim continuity with them. Significantly, he has named that era as one which has passed away. This seems so obvious to him that he doesn’t argue it. It is self-evident.”

    Yet he continues to give communion by intinction, an option under appreciated by some liturgists.

    1. @Daniel McKernan – comment #25:

      Yet he continues to give communion by intinction, an option under appreciated by some liturgists.

      In England and Wales it is not possible to have any degree of appreciation of intinction because the practice is in fact illegal under liturgical law in those countries.

      Put very simply:

      (1) Communicants may not themselves intinct because that counts as “self-service” Communion, something that the Church forbids (cf. Inaestimabile Donum 9, Redemptionis Sacramentum 94, and for the absolute prohibition on “self-intinction” Redemptionis Sacramentum 104).

      (2) In England and Wales, the choice of whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand is up to the communicant, not the minister. Therefore the minister may not intinct either because by so doing the choice of how to receive is denied to the communicant. An intincted host cannot be received in the hand (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum 104).

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:

        No, Communion by intinction is not prohibited in England and Wales. The England and Wales GIRM is quite clear on this:

        The choice of on the tongue or in the hand is in the GIRM and it applies when Communion is not given under both kinds (as it is in intinction). When it is given under both kinds by intinction, a different section of the GIRM applies.

        161. If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the Priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, The Body of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand, the choice lying with the communicant. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes the whole of it.
        If, however, Communion is given under both kinds, the rite prescribed in nos. 284-287 is to be followed.

        287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host, intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws.

  18. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:

    I understand the thinking behind it but your analysis of the liturgical law on intinction is not accurate.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum sets out the position clearly: “The norms of the Roman Missal admit the principle that in cases where Communion is administered under both kinds, ‘the Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon’. As regards the administering of Communion to lay members of Christ’s faithful, the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, though the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains (Redemptionis Sacramentum 103).

    Here in England and Wales, intinction is “not recommended” but it is certainly not forbidden. The Bishops’ Conference document Celebrating the Mass even gives directives:

    “If Communion under both kinds is given by intinction (which is
    not recommended in England and Wales), the communicant may choose to receive under the form of bread only. When Communion in the form of intinction is given, the following formula is said, ‘The Body and Blood of Christ,’ and the communicant responds, ‘Amen’. Intinction can only be administered by a minister and may not be self-administered” (Celebrating the Mass 210).

    1. @Fr Kurt Barragan – comment #28:

      (and Samuel J. Howard comment #30)

      I am sorry. Redemptionis Sacramentum and GIRM are all very well, but particular law for England and Wales, as established by the Bishops’ Conference in 1976, is that the choice of whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand always remains with the communicant, not the priest or other minister, regardless of any other provisions. The fact that intinction may be a theoretical option in the other documents does not affect this basic law. In theory intinction may be permitted. In practice, in England and Wales it is forbidden. Particular law takes precedence over universal law.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #35:

        My point in citing Redemptionis Sacramentum is that it seems to indicate that particular law may not exclude intinction.

        In any case, the writers of RS were well aware that, in places such as England and Wales, communicants can choose to receive in the hand (92). The document still insists that (unlike the use of the spoon or tube which the Bishops can exclude) the “the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains” (103).

        In any case, you base your conclusion not on any law purporting to ban intinction but on the possibility of receiving Communion in the hand. To clarify, your argument seems to boil down to this:
        (1). In England and Wales, the communicant may choose whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand.
        (2). An intincted host may not be received on the hand.
        THEREFORE
        (3). Intinction is forbidden in England and Wales.

        In fact, however, intinction can be offered while respecting both (1) and (2). Each host is intincted individually so a simple solution is that when a communicant approaches indicating that he or she wishes to receive on the hand, the priest places an unintincted host on the hand.

        That procedure is, I think, exactly what is described in the document Celebrating the Mass: A Pastoral Introduction, published in 2005 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The relevant quotation is in my earlier comment. The document does indicate that intinction is “not recommended” in England and Wales. But by describing how it is to be done, the document clearly acknowledges that it is not forbidden.

        Finally, to accept your argument would also imply that intinction is forbidden in other territories that allow communion in the hand. This is clearly not the case. For instance, the Norms for Communion Under Both Kinds for the United States of America not only describe intinction but in some cases recommend it.

        That is why I think that your analysis is clearly wrong.

      2. @Fr Kurt Barragan – comment #46:

        a simple solution is that when a communicant approaches indicating that he or she wishes to receive on the hand, the priest places an unintincted host on the hand.

        You know as well as I do that this, while practicable in theory, will simply not happen in practice. By the time the previous communicant has moved out of the way, the priest has already dipped the next host for the following communicant. Where is the priest to place that intincted host now? The only possibility is for him to consume it himself before taking another host for the communicant.

        The amount of time required for the distribution of Communion immediately doubles if the priest or minister waits to be sure which method of reception is desired in each individual case. The amount of time trebles if the priest or minister is having to consume intincted hosts that are not required.

        the document Celebrating the Mass: A Pastoral Introduction, published in 2005 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The relevant quotation is in my earlier comment. The document does indicate that intinction is “not recommended” in England and Wales.

        Why do you think think the Bishops determined that intinction was not recommended? A number of reasons:

        (a) They were aware of the history of intinction in the West, of the fact that it had not been in common use since roughly the 11th-12th century, and of the reasons for its discontinuance then.

        (b) They wished to emphasize to the faithful Jesus’s dual commands of “Take and eat” and “Take and drink”, rather than “take and dunk”.

        (c) They knew that not discouraging intinction would open the doors to self-intinction, which had already regularly occurred in some places and in the course of which disedifying accidents had been caused. (People are very good at ignoring the details of episcopal pronouncements!)

        (d) They knew that some people were already using intinction as a yardstick for personal holiness: “I’m more reverent than you” if I receive by this method.

        (e) They were aware that the move toward self-intinction had started in the wake of the AIDS scare, when people wanted to continue to receive under both kinds without risk, but they also knew that modern medical science has proved that you cannot in fact catch AIDS from receiving from the chalice. (If only they had issued a statement making this clear!)

        (f) They were aware that some sufferers from coeliac syndrome are only able to receive under the form of wine; dipping a host in a chalice can “contaminate” the consecrated wine and render it life-threatening to such people.

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:

        I have never given Communion by intinction and do not intend to enter into discussion here about whether it should be more widely practiced. I do, however, accept that it is one of the lawful ways of distributing Holy Communion under both kinds.

        My point all along has been this: your statement that intinction “is in fact illegal under liturgical law in” England and Wales is simply not true.

        Since you mention it, I agree that the procedure I outlined above would take a little longer (although I think that you exaggerate quite how much). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I sometimes think that the haste with which we can hurry to “get through” the Communion Rite is rather unseemly.

        I don’t know the exact reasons why the Bishops here have chosen not to recommend intinction (and again, “not recommended” is not the same as “forbidden”!) I suspect that some of the reasons on your list played a part.

        With respect to reason (b), I agree that a strong argument can be made that drinking from the chalice is a clearer sign that matches more obviously with the words of the Lord. I suggest that you could make that point without such flippant language which seems rather disrespectful.

      4. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:
        Paul, that is simply false, in practice it is quite possible to distribute Hosts that are not intincted to those who desire to receive in the hand; the minister though must be observant of who desires to receive in the hand. We have used intinction quite frequently and when someone approaches with their hands positioned to receive in the hand, that person does not get an intincted Host. It works very, very well and is respectful of the options available. However, no communicant is allowed to intinct their “own” Host.

  19. It is difficult for me to believe that Paul would believe anyone discussing intinction to mean self-intinction (re. Paul’s point #1 above).
    Paul’s point #2 appears to be a highly legalistic approach to holy communion and seems to be somewhat out-of-order because the bishops of England & Wales would need a separate indult to prohibit any priest, deacon, or acolyte from employing what the Church clearly lauds in so many places: GIRM: #191, 245, 249, 285, 287, RS # 103. Of course the US “Norms” 24, 49 & 50 repeat the same & move on to recommend intinction above the common chalice is certain situations (#24) just as Sacramentali Communione did for the universal Church in 1970.

  20. Let me see, the Pope says directly and in his own words, without any other commentary or spin the following: ““I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.”
    And yet certain people here continue to spin his remarks as an apology for the Ordinariate which at face value it most certainly isn’t. What the Holy Father said is said at face value and without desperate spins grasping at straws. There are reasons why Anglicans want to become Catholic and these are very legitimate and we’re glad the Anglicans understand why their members want to become Catholic. The Anglican Ordinariate will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that from the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.
    I think the Pope said it all and succinctly and enough said. The Anglican Ordinariate is here to stay, and we’re glad the Anglicans understand why. Cross the Tiber by swimming on over! We’re glad the Anglicans understand why (whether they like it or not, they understand why).

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #33:
      “At face value” is rather like “what the prayer really says”; it presumes that there is a simple and unambiguous meaning of the text. There is not.

      You could with equal validity read Pope Francis’s comment this way:

      “I am well aware that my predecessor dropped Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Ordinariate on your predecessor without warning. It is true that groups of Anglicans approached us first, but the move must have struck Anglican leaders as abrupt, and some of our new Catholics lost no time in denouncing their former brethren as ‘priestesses’, ‘sodomites’, ‘heretics’ and the like.

      Both you and Abp Williams could have responded very negatively to this situation. But you did not, and I am grateful for that.”

      1. @Jonathan Day – comment #36:
        You could read it that way but I would suggest you need an opthomologist. I quoted what he said above. It is clear and speaks for itself not needing any desperate spin. If this Jesuit pope wanted to say what you wrote, by God he would have said it–he’s no shrinking violet.

    2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #33:
      Fr McDonald. Your understanding of Pope Francis’ brief remarks on the Ordinariate is not convincing. Come to that, the Ordinariate itself in this country (England) is not convincing. It needs a lot more than personal conviction and inner urge to become a (Roman) Catholic. One has to live the life amid and despite (!) one’s fellow Catholics, a task which is far wider than assent, however heartfelt.

      It’s worth remembering that before the Ordinariate was established, some Anglicans were puzzled about the Anglican “patrimony.” In what did their distinctiveness consist? Some wags suggested “Matrimony.” It’s a good start!

  21. Mark Silk on Sandro Magister

    The Curia Strikes Back

    http://marksilk.religionnews.com/2013/06/14/the-curia-strikes-back/

    I’m no Vaticanista, but I know a media hit when I see one. And this is how the curiales are fighting back.

    It’s pretty clever to play the Jesuit card the way they have. For centuries, the Jesuits were emblems of Catholic deviousness — the elite operatives who grabbed the money, pulled the international strings, playing fast and loose with the rules of morality. Forget Dan Brown and Opus Dei. The Great Jesuit Conspiracy against truth, justice, and democracy is back!

    But there’s another way Jesuits figure in the history of the Church, and one more relevant to the struggle at hand. In 17th-century France, it was them against the Jansenists, Augustinian puritans who believed in a Catholicism of the Chosen, zealots who in the name of opposing centralized Roman authority worked for a smaller, more rigid Church.

    Thus, in the name of democracy, Magister gives voice to the neo-Jansenists in the Vatican, those eager to tighten the screws of orthodoxy and to bar the door against anyone who does not meet their standards of conduct. They are no friends of democracy in the Church, and they don’t like Francis’ traditional Jesuit message of inclusion and advance. They feel the levers of power slipping from their fingers. And they’re scared.

    Neo-jansenists in the Vatican!

    Add that to the Gay Lobby, the Pelagians, and the Gnostics!

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #34:
      I don’t know if it’s all that theological; Magister, however, does appear to be trying demonstrate he’s still a playuh, as we’d say in Boston (MA).

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #41:

        Agreed, that was my basic interpretation when I labeled him as Machiavellian earlier, but I thought Silk was creative with the Neo-jansenists label for the people that Magister is fronting for.

  22. Jonathan – here is Allan’s exact statement posted on his kerfuffle site:

    “Yes, in front of Archbishop Justin Welby, the new Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Rome tells him that he approves of Pope Benedict’s authorization of the Anglican Ordinariate for disaffected Anglicans!!!!!!!! It doesn’t get any better than this folks!”

    Appears that Allan has taken *liberties* with his interpretation – hard to read the exact and actual written words of Francis and find Francis saying – *I approve of Pope Benedict’s….* In fact, Francis did NOT say that at all. Seems to fit into the category (again) of Allan putting words in other’s mouths.

    But, shoot, he also posted next to this an *old* clip from 2004 from a Canadian priest who was suspended by Rome and the Archbishop of Toronto for leading masses for the SSPX society – the clip is about how this priest is refuting his 10 year participation in ICEL back in the 1960’s. Now he is a traditionalist and personnel chaplain for Mel Gibson. As Allan is wont to say – *it doesn’t get any better than this, folks* (Allan, of course, posts this as if the clip just happened – no background; no explanation; no warning that this priest is suspended. Does seem, per Rita, that Allan is more and more desperate)

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #38:

      he also posted next to this an *old* clip from 2004 from a Canadian priest who was suspended by Rome and the Archbishop of Toronto for leading masses for the SSPX society – the clip is about how this priest is refuting his 10 year participation in ICEL back in the 1960′s. Now he is a traditionalist and personnel chaplain for Mel Gibson.

      This is very old history. The priest in question, Fr Stephen Somerville, suffered a nervous breakdown (you can hear that in the way he speaks and writes, which is nothing like his voice and delivery in the days when I knew him). Seeking refuge with Mel Gibson was not, alas, a recipe for rehabilitation. Very sad.

  23. I would say Jonathan’s reading of the text is more in harmony with the music of the rest of the remarks and the personalities.

  24. Paul – agreed and sad that Allan *uses* this person and situation to trumpet his Neo-Jansenist line of thinking.

    1. @Fran Rossi Szpylczyn – comment #5:

      Fran: really like the way you give context to the “gay lobby,” a phrase that many people that I have spoken to, cling to in a negative way – in either ideological direction.

      I agree with your assessment of Rita’s summary. I read Rita’s summary not as particularly focused on sexual orientation, but rather the abuse of authority. I’ve commented elsewhere that Pope Francis’s public acknowledgement of blackmail and corruption in the curia also publicly acknowledges, even if in a veiled manner, that gay priests exist. Gay clergy are (at least in my circles) not controversial. Yet, in the Vatican bubble, this recognition is significant. I hope that Pope Francis seizes upon this crisis in a way that shows compassion towards Catholics of all orientations. This would be a welcome change from the polemics of recent papacies.

      @Bill deHaas – comment #44:

      Paul – agreed and sad that Allan *uses* this person and situation to trumpet his Neo-Jansenist line of thinking

      I don’t necessarily see how Paul’s example [June 14, 2013 – 5:46 pm] demonstrates “neo-Jansenism”. I only say this because I struggle with Jansenism in many ways, both in caricature and in actual theology. Becoming a radical schismatic might indicate Jansenistic tendencies, but the two are not necessarily closely linked.

  25. The comments for this post seemed to have “gone off the rails” in debates about intinction and the ordinate which hardly contribute to our understanding of the topic Back to Rita’s original question

    So, what is really new here? What is different? The most significant point, it seems to me, is in the framing of the discussion ,

    The MEDITATIONS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
    DURING THE DAILY MASSES CELEBRATED IN THE
    CHAPEL OF THE DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

    are so helpful in understanding Francis “frame of the discussion”
    for example

    The Church is not a babysitter
    Wednesday, 17 April 2013

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20130417_slumbering-church_en.html

    The Church cannot be merely “a babysitter who cares for the child just to get him to sleep”. If she were this, hers would be a “slumbering Church”. Whoever knows Jesus has the strength and the courage to proclaim him. And whoever has received Baptism has the strength to walk, to go forward, to evangelize and “when we do this the Church becomes a mother who generates children” capable of bringing Christ to the world.

    The Pope recalled the persecutions in Japan in the early 17th century, when Catholic missionaries were expelled and communities were left for 200 years without priests. On their return, the missionaries found “all communities in place, everyone baptized, everyone catechized, all married in the Church” — and this thanks to the work of the baptized.

    In the mediation Francis again emphasizes the future “to go forward, to evangelize” rather than slumbering in the present. When Francis is critical it is not of the past (Pre-Vatican II or Post Vatican II) but rather he is non-idealogically critical of the present, e.g. our slumbering, our failure to evangelize and to serve the poor.

    The positive past that Francis invokes, one of his favorites, is the 200 years without priests of Japan in the 17h Century.

    That unusual situation, however, should be seen in the context of his frequent citing of ordinary lay people who have deepen his own understanding and experience of Christian life, asking them “Did you study at the Gregorian?”

    In other words, the unusual sign of the ministry of the baptized in Japan illustrates its presence often unrecognized in our daily lives. Certainly that has been true in my life. All the important models for my own Christian life have been lay people (family, friends, teachers) not priests or religious.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #50:
      Obviously we have a different person with a different theological perspective in the papacy. He speaks more frequently than Benedict did about the following things (and in a short three months or less):
      1. Church as Holy Mother
      2. Fidelity to the Magisterium, successor of Saint Peter and other bishops in union with him
      3. the reality of the devil (in fact I’ve never heard the devil mentioned as much from the papacy as Francis has done).
      4. Uses the term “walk” more so than “pilgrimage” in speaking about “going forward” with the love of Christ in the new evangelization.
      5. Has a strong Marian devotion and loves the piety and devotions of the Church especially those in his native Argentina–seems more overtly Marian than Benedict
      6. Does not come across as an academic or theologian, but as a populist and pastor–a mix of Mother Angelica and Pope John Paul II, with a little of John XXIII tossed in for good measure
      7. He is austere in life and liturgy, certainly not animated at all in prayer or liturgy, looking quite dour except when preaching or speaking to groups
      8. He’s a Jesuit and certainly approaches things from the Jesuit missionary spirit and spirituality
      9. He expects fidelity to the Church, which he calls Holy Mother and to Her Magisterium which he explicitly refers to as the Successor of Saint Peter and the other bishops in union with him (Oh, I already said that, but it deserves emphasis here)
      10. He makes unilateral decisions liturgically and otherwise but in a populist sort of way.

      1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #52:
        Geez – biased opinion masquerading as certitudes.

        Reminds me of a post by Michael Sean Winter last week on a recent George Weigel interview (you know, that George who wrote one book on a pope and is now the self-appointed papal expert). Here is the exact post:

        http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/weigel-pope-francis

        Applicable to Allan’s picking and choosing; out of context list:

        :it must be said that George Weigel may be the only person on the planet who can do an interview about Pope Francis and not mention the poor.”

        OR

        Allan’s list is remarkable for what it doesn’t say or Allan may be the only commenter who can post about Francis and not mention the poor:

        – Francis’s repeated statements about a church of the poor
        – Francis’ repeated statements about a self-referential church (see Allan’s #2, 9 (repeat), 10
        – Allan states: “….loves strong Marian devotion, piety, devotions” Not sure that Allan’s concept of Marian piety and Francis is even remotely the same (note his recent comment about a traditionalist group that gave him a present of 3,000+ rosaries said and Francis’s comment about *accounting* – that this approach goes way back and was reformed by VII and needs to go away)
        – Allan states: “mix of Mother Angelica & JPII* – keep in mind Francis’s recent statement about small religious groups that are wealthy; with few members, and he has concerns about that wealth and what is done with it….doubt most observers see any similarity between Angelica and Francis (OTOH, many have written about Francis and John XXIII)
        – Allan repeats his limited view of Magisterium (yet, again, Francis recently told a small group of religious to press on even if they were to receive a notification from the CDF (doesn’t quite fit Allan’s definition)
        – the bombshell word *devil* – as some have explained this is very different from what Allan is trying to hang on to – see Jack #58
        – unilateral liturgy decisions – and yet, elsewhere, traddies including Allan’s blog noted that he has kept the papal MC which seems to contradict the meaning of *unilateral* or that Francis visits Rome parishes and adapts to what the local church/parish customs are.

  26. The discussion of intinction and whether it is forbidden, recommended, or not is largely irrelevant. It remains a very poor practice. It’s not any more sanitary than a common cup. There’s no less “danger” of spilling. That clergy don’t do it tells you most everything you need to know.

    It brings to mind a priest friend who once suggested that we shouldn’t introduce the practices of “traitors” to the Mass. We shouldn’t wash hands like Pilate instead of feet. We shouldn’t dip bread like Judas.

  27. OK, admittedly this is going in circles… but I can’t help but add that where there is more than one person distributing communion, one station could have intinction for those who desire it, and the other could offer communion in the hand.

    I’m not a fan of intinction, but I don’t see the point of saying it’s banned when it’s not.

  28. I have to admit a guilty pleasure in reading Fr Allan’s posts these past hundred-some days. We must be on the right track if our favorite conservative bloggers are going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    That said, I’m glad for the loyalty some of that faithful remnant are showing to the Bishop of Rome. (I have to wonder if the arch- addition is some kind of …)

    An era has most definitely passed away. The last fifteen years have been a last gulp for neojansenism and a weird mash-up between pelagianism and doctrinal orthodoxy. We treat our misguided sisters and brothers charitably, but we move on with the real tasks of the Gospel. Especially evangelizing the lost. Not catering to the embittered.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #56:
      Todd —

      I try to listen to the conservatives in the Church, and to do so I regularly check out the New Advent site. I agree with you that the conservatives are desperately trying to persuade themselves that the changes Francis has already initiated are actually consistent with their own inclinations, and they desperately want to believe that he is “one of them”, that is, a “traditionalist”, bent on ressourcement (sp?) and “continuity”, who finds mistakes to be scandalous and of no value whatsoever.

      The fear of some of them that in the past they might have made mistakes themselves is so palpable they inspire me to pray for them. It’s obviously really, really difficult for them. Presented with a pope (a POPE!) who doesn’t fear mistakes, all they can do is whistle in the dark. Pray.

      1. @Ann Olivier – comment #62:
        Perhaps I’m unable to see it because I am a traditionalist (well, liturgically traditional), but I don’t see the desperation so many wish to ascribe to the conservative and traditional.

        Maybe because so many non-conservatives claim Francis to be one of them, they can’t possibly fathom the idea that people they do not agree with might also see him as being one of their own too. Maybe folks who didn’t like Benedict have a hard time believing those who liked him might also like Francis and don’t see him as being so radically different or think he will be their foe.

        I get the impression that some people really want to see conservatives running scared, crushed that their vision of the Church is dead.

      2. @Jack Wayne – comment #64:
        “I get the impression that some people really want to see conservatives running scared, crushed that their vision of the Church is dead.”

        Not me. I’m just hoping they’ll rejoin the Church and acknowledge there is more than one path to Christ other than their own. I have no desire to turn the tables as they were expecting eight, fifteen years ago when neojansenism was ascendant. Time for the high road and let’s get on with the mission of the Church. Together.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #65:
        A good many have returned, largely thanks to Benedict and SP. At least half the folks at my EF were members of SSPX and independent churches, now they are actually engaged in and contribute to parish life.

        I never believed the SSPX would come back wholesale, but I doubt they will acquire new members like they used to, at least in places that truly believe there is more than one path to Christ.

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #56:

      Todd,

      The recent fad of progressives accusing people of jansenism and pelagianism is as bad as SSPX types accusing people of modernism. The words are used as meaningless insults.

      It might actually be worse, as modernism was always a bit of a meaningless catch all, whereas you actually have to ignore jansenism and pelagianism proper meanings to use them in this way.

      Is it too much to ask that you provide some evidence when you start calling being heretics?

  29. I wonder if this Pope may try to revive widespread popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the devotion that historically became one of the chief counterpoints to Jansenistic impluses and a devotion that had gone into such decline that many enthusiasts of much more recent devotions seem not to understand how they derive from this older one.

    I also have a sense that the Pope’s long experience in Ignatian spiritual direction may prompt him to be wary of approaches that fall into the trap envisioned by the old spiritual maxim: that the Evil One brings evil in pairs, so that we may flee from one to cling to the other (while imagining ourselves to be denouncers of vice and promoters of virtue – which in this context we are, but only by halves, the other halves being in our blindspot). There’s a particular energy that serves as a red flag for this dynamic,* and the Pope is showing signs that he is quite sensitive to perceiving it. Hence, his determination to confound people who want to stick him in their own narratives. After, all the most ardent of Jesus’ closest disciples betrayed him in their own ways….

    * A kind of egoism taking the flag of the superego, in hack psychological terms. I find it interesting that, while this Pope talks directly about struggling with the Evil One, his descriptions are often drained of egoistic drama, quite unlike much conversation about spiritual struggle one commonly finds at St Blogs, for example.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #58:

      I wonder if this Pope may try to revive widespread popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

      I agree that devotion to the Sacred Heart is significant. However, I also agree with many Eastern Christians (primarily Orthodox) who contend that Sacred Heart iconography presents Christological difficulties. Eastern Christians have no native tradition (before Eastern Catholic latinization) of the adoration of individual body parts of Christ. The Orthodox critique that the Dual Nature can’t be parsed is quite valid.

      I have difficulty with the Sacred Heart devotion because it is specifically designed to combat the notion that the Mass is wholly extrinsic to the participation or experience of the assembly/congregation. I’d rather excessively intellectualize the Mass and create an abstract construct out of it. The Sacred Heart emphatically fights this heterodox tendency. The root of the Jansenist heresy is the believer who, by placing the Mass far outside the immanent world, in fact exalts the self first.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #60:
        Jordan —

        I’ve wondered before what you mean by “intellectualizing” the Mass using abstractions. Are you talking about thinking about the Mass while attending Mass or thinking about it at other times?

        As an old Scholastic philosophy teacher I see intellectual thoughts about real things as necessarily related to our concrete thinking (imagining, remembering, sensing) as well. Further, while individual abstractions (e.g., man, sacrifice, salvation) do each focus on only *part* of a real reality, if we are to fully appreciate that entity then we must use a whole complex of abstractions *plus* concrete symbols to instantiate them as individual realities.

        What say you?

      2. @Ann Olivier – comment #63:

        I’ve wondered before what you mean by “intellectualizing” the Mass using abstractions. Are you talking about thinking about the Mass while attending Mass or thinking about it at other times?

        In my experience, intellectualization of the Mass necessarily involves instantiated thoughts. Abstractions must, at some point, both depart from and return towards “concrete symbols”. Not all thoughts are similarly proximate to the concrete, but every abstract point in the mental constellation indeed revolves around certain central concrete concepts. The Mass is necessarily the ultimate concrete locus from which all philological and theological thoughts generate and radiate, as the liturgy re-presents the sacrifice of the Cross in an unbloody manner. Christ’s sacramental presence, then, necessarily anchors the wandering mind since we are in his image, and he is the creator of Mind and our individual minds.

        Even the most rushed and perfunctory low Mass offers a symphony of thought. One need only catch a few words, or follow a few gestures, to return to the central mysteries of our faith. I may not move in synchrony with every word of the priest, or even look up to watch his every gesture, but I am nevertheless swept along by grand breezes of profundity. Mass, then, is not unlike oak foliage in the fall. Each leaf of the Mass speaks in sound and gesture. The Canon page appears briefly, only to disappear again as the sacramental universe turns again. The gentle rustle of the priest’s spoken tone resembles a slight wind through falling foliage. At other times, silence roars through the church, not unlike the frightening quiet of the rural forest at dusk.

        Even after a few years on PTB, I still do not understand the liturgical reforms. The reformed liturgy relentlessly grinds the aforementioned universe into a intellectually plano lens focused intently on group action to the detriment of individual thought. All actions of the assembly must be simultaneous; there is no time for the mind to rest, to ponder, to generate new universes.

        I am constantly reminded, nevertheless, that the Mass is also charity, the greatest given to people. In this way, Mass can never truly be intellectual impoverishment.

      3. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #88:
        While I’m not inclined to disagree with anything you say, Jordan, I do find it a fairly low standard. One of my mentors in Scouting was a naturalist, and I could apply the “symphony of thought” to any corner of a swamp, a forest floor, or a streambed–and that’s before I kneel down with a magnifying lens. My dad found profundity of a sort on a golf course. Not my style, but equally undeniable as a subjective personal experience of nature.

        “Even after a few years on PTB, I still do not understand the liturgical reforms.”

        It’s about hope. It’s about an expectation that liturgy will be fruitful with believer and seeker alike. It’s about the assessment that except for a relative few, the Tridentine Mass wasn’t accomplishing all that the Roman liturgy was capable of. And we were falling far short in the essential mission of Matthew 28:19.

        The Mass isn’t about individual thought. It’s about universal sanctification in Christ. The impoverishment isn’t intellectual. It’s evangelical and spiritual.

      4. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #88:

        Even the most rushed and perfunctory low Mass offers a symphony of thought. One need only catch a few words, or follow a few gestures, to return to the central mysteries of our faith. I may not move in synchrony with every word of the priest, or even look up to watch his every gesture, but I am nevertheless swept along by grand breezes of profundity. Mass, then, is not unlike oak foliage in the fall. Each leaf of the Mass speaks in sound and gesture. The Canon page appears briefly, only to disappear again as the sacramental universe turns again. The gentle rustle of the priest’s spoken tone resembles a slight wind through falling foliage. At other times, silence roars through the church, not unlike the frightening quiet of the rural forest at dusk.

        Jordan,

        Though I do not always agree with everything you say, I was struck by the beauty of this imagery. It gives me something to ponder. Thank you.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #67:

      And of course Mark Silk’s “Neo-jansensim” is even more a phantom, although perhaps a very useful one since it mocks a smaller, purer church.

      Catholicism is the Great Church with room for much diversity even the great diversity of the saints and religious orders and their otherworldliness. However the attempt to make the Church as a whole into a smaller, purer church is essentially a sectarian notion, the one that has generated the proliferation of Protestant Churches.

      The attempt to justify this type of movement as “Evangelical Catholicism” is the real misnomer since it relates very little to Evangelicals in this country nor the Gospel. So I think satirizing that movement as “Neo-jansenism” is a reasonable way to talk about it, rather than as “Evangelical Catholicism” or “Conservative Catholicism” or “Traditional Catholicism.” All these labels are very fuzzy.

      At least “Neo-jansenism” make clear what I dislike about this movement, not that it is Evangelical or Conservative, or Traditional but that it heads in the direction of a small, purer church.

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #77:
        Well stated, Jack. Not sure the earlier comments stated that these were *heresies* (that language is Allan’s alternate universe).

        Fact – anti-Modernism was a papal program for more than 50+ years that damaged the church and has been effectively refuted by Vatican II. It was basically an authoritarian attempt that could be best described as another *Flat Earth Society* cult.

        Fact – Jansenism (in a different category from anti-modernism) is usually a *broadbrush* term applied to a few hundred years of church history. Experts have shown how Jansenism influenced and impacted the church culminating in some of the scandals that caused the Reformation (even the church fathers/theologians at Trent admitted that some of the desired reforms were needed and good).

        Smaller, purer church = self-referential church (Jack’s description is excellent)

        Smaller, purer church = navel gazing; a form of self-referentiality; defining *evangelism* as Allan has tried to explicate (in his poorly written sentence structure sort of way – whatever happened to subject-verb-object) with the use of his usual *passcode words*- *be faithful* (as decided by whom?); Magisterium (again, narrowly defined and ignoring VII definitions); *orthodox* (again, as decided by whom?); *not a cult* (could have fooled me); *full consent of the will* (my moral theology would say that this is only part of the process); *human idols* (again, who decides this?).

        As Jonathan did above in #36, sounds like Francis would describe Allan’s blog/approach as an *ideology* or even *Tower of Babel* – why? self-interest, power, authority masquerading through codes such as orthodox, idols, faithful (always judging; never going out to the periphery which is love).

        Misrepresented – (intentionally) – suggest that is Allan’s approach.

        Francis quote – bombshell (if Allan agrees)
        Francis quote – off the cuff (if Allan disagrees and needs to be properly understood (another code word)

  30. What I’m really surprised by is that no one here is outraged by the fact that Pope Francis does not give holy communion to the faithful except in rare occasions. The main theory is that he doesn’t want politicians to use it for photo-ops. I think that this is absurd, firstly he can screen the people who are admitted to receive from him. Second, isn’t this like saying “I don’t want to be seen dining with tax collectors and prostitutes because they might use it to create scandal”? Finally, it’s a restoration of a pre-vatican ii practice. Is no one really disturbed by this?

  31. It is a puzzlement and I’ve noticed, including today’s packed outdoor Mass, that in the last few televised Masses, the camera no longer shows the pope distributing Holy Communion even to the deacons and this seems intentional on the part of the director which I presume he was told from on high not to show. It is superficial of course, but something that should be explained and more than just he doesn’t want photo ops, because there are plenty of those in other contexts. But no, I’m not outraged, just puzzled.

    And on another note, in terms of the negativity of one poster, since when has fidelity to Holy Mother Church and her Magisterium, meaning the pope and bishops in union with him, not meant serving the needs of the poor and concern for promoting the social justice teaching of the Magisterium? Fidelity means a great deal and helps all Catholics go forward to the “maximum performance” expected of all Catholics in the areas of faith, morals, ethics, canon law, all of which includes serving the needs of the poor.

      1. @Stanisluas Kosala – comment #74:
        I don’t know and of course I don’t see every televised Mass, but early on the camera focused on the Holy Father giving Holy Communion to the kneeling deacons by way of the ordinary way it is done in Italy when the Precious Blood is offered, intinction. A couple of weeks ago, and because it was a First Communion Mass, the children stood behind the altar but received on the tongue and of course by way of intinction. And yes, there would be outrage in my parish if I didn’t distribute Holy Communion for the reasons that are attributed to the Holy Father, but worse would be this mistaken notion that others should do this “menial” task of pure service, and that it would be below the priest’s calling.

      2. @Stanisluas Kosala – comment #81:
        Thanks for the photo. Obviously if the Holy Father was opposed to kneeling for Holy Communion and God forbid, intinction, he would have long before now simply made sure that Msgr. Marini tell the deacons to stand to receive but they don’t (and I’ve seen quite a bit of lace on some of the deacons at recent papal Mass–horrors of horrors!). It is hard to tell from the photo, but the Holy Father seems to continue to reverse who holds what when distributing Holy Communion under both forms in the ordinary way in Rome, by intinction. He, the Holy Father, holds the chalice of Precious Blood while the MC holds the ciborium of Hosts. Usually it is the reverese and the deacon assisting the priest with intinction would hold the Precious Blood.
        But what we have seen with Pope Francis in this regard is continuity. While Pope Benedict always distributed Holy Communion to selected communicants and they had to kneel, others distributing Holy Communion did so to standing communicants and communion in the hand was quite common at those stations at papal Masses. So, I think the way to go is not either/or, but both/and, yet those who want to go backwards want rigid uniformity with everyone standing, everyone receiving from the common chalice by placing their mouth on it and everyone being uniform and thus supposedly united in this liturgical action.

  32. I’m sorry, outraged is too strong a word, I was writing faster than I could think. However, if a regular parish priest at mass, on principle, only gave communion to the deacon, and then sat down, and the rumor was that he didn’t want to be seen giving holy communion to certain members of the assembly, a significant number of people in the parish would likely be offended.

  33. Very simple explanation.

    Francis wants to put emphasis upon the sacramental encounter with Jesus not with whom the minister might be, especially not conveying that it is better to receive communion from the Pope.

    Christ is the door to the Kingdom
    Monday, 22 April 2013

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20130422_christ-door_en.html

    But how can we be sure that Jesus is the true door? “Take the Beatitudes and do what the Beatitudes say”, was the Pope’s answer. And when someone suggests anything else, “do not listen: the door is always Jesus and those who enter by that door are not mistaken”. Jesus “is not only the door: he is the way, he is the road”. There are many paths that may be easier, but “they are not true. They are false. Only Jesus is the road. Some of you may ask, “Father are you a fundamentalist?”! No. Jesus said simply this: “I am the door”, “I am the way”, in order to give us life.

    Francis model of the priesthood is very much a servant model rather than a cultic model. The emphasis is upon Jesus and upon the persons being served.

    Ignatius in the spiritual exercises said that the director of the exercises should be brief and not get in between the person making the retreat and their encounter with Jesus.

    On one occasion, perhaps that of the ordination of priests, Francis said that priests should be mediators not “intermediaries.”

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #76:
      If that really was Francis’s reason for not distributing holy communion then he wouldn’t have done the first communion at a roman parish a few weeks ago. Surely, for the kids and the families, the excitement of having the pope with them could easily overshadow the reception of first communion.

  34. The smaller but purer Church is being misrepresented here and intentionally I think by some. It does not refer to excluding people by rigid uniformity but rather seeks to form people through evangelization in the truths of the Gospel and thus of the Church as the Church seeks to lead all to God’s grace that then enables them to be faithful to Holy Mother Church and her Magisterium including the servant model as though this could be isolated in anyway from orthodox Catholicism. But then, through human freedom, and full consent of the will, one may choose idols and thus seperate themselves from the Church in acts of infidelity to her and the Magisterium. This is freedom for the Church is not a cult but all must belong through full consent of the will and any could leave through the same. It just happens that today many aren’t interested in the Church but prefers idols, “the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

    Excerpts from the Holy Father’s Mass today: “…All too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.”

    The Holy Father went on to say that people dream of building a new “Tower of Babel”, a city of man that is without God. They believe that the rejection of “God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment.”

    As a result,” the Pope continued, “the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

    Because of this, we have a smaller, Church, purer remains to be seen.

  35. I do think the invocation of Neo-Jansenism here is uncalled for and misrepresents the truth. More importantly, it represents a yielding to a temptation for tit for tat: when opponents invoke the cudgels of dissidence, heterodoxy and heresy, it is tempting to grab for the tu quoque in return.

    The reality is simpler and more subtle: if the “Spirit of Vatican II” impulse (say, from the early 1960s into the early years of the pontificate of John Paul II) was often one of grandiose optimism, the reaction (which set in more firmly as John Paul II declined in energy and optimism) has more often been one of grandiose fear. The grandiosity of both is a sign of egoism at work. That said, fear (however disguised from our self-awareness) is a dead-end in Christian spirituality: it’s not long-term part of a life-giving cycle.

  36. On the challenge to the critique of neojansenism, fine. Is it an improvement to refer to the movement in terms of the hermeneutic of complaint? Frowny-face Catholicism?

    The explicit encouragement of complaining in the church’s official liturgy documents, a repudiation of subsidiarity, are a matter of public record. They ask for bad news, and they’ll get it. They downplay the good, and in a decidedly un-Pauline approach, and what do they expect? A gold star for it?

    I think it is a fair critique of those who bring a relentless negativism (is that term more preferable?) to their public ministry in the Church?

    Many churchfolk have indeed emphasized the negative as a tool to further their own agendas. In extreme form, I find that a betrayal of the Gospel, a set of shackles on the effort of evangelization. I know I’m not alone in this sense. I see it in the bottom line: people leaving the Church for little other reason than its leaders have left them to pursue these trivialities.

    neojansenism isn’t a heresy–those were the words of others–not me. It is simply sinful behavior. No more. No less. And it deserves to be critiqued.

    It is not my practice to label individual persons heretics. But where neojansenism is concerned, I don’t have a problem with rendering specific criticism on philosophies and practices. But if it makes some PT folks feel a bit better, I’ll just sign off with this sentiment: Down With Small-church-Getting-Smaller. That era is done. And not a moment too soon.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #84:

      Using words which actually communicate what you are trying to say is always an improvement! It means which we actually discuss substance.

      In terms of which, I would just say there is more than one way to diminish the Church.

      Replacing hope with despair is clearly one way, as is treating honest mistakes as the end of the world. However, failing to recognise our mistakes and plowing on regardless, that will end up in the same place.

  37. We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.
    In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men’s own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfilment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.

    These words from John XXIII’s opening speech at Vatican II address the issues being raised here. The problem with the small church idea is captured in the last sentences. There is a loss of hope obvious in the pessimism, but also a lack of faith that “everything…leads to the greater good of the Church.” Borders must be guarded to keep evil out, not expanded to let the suffering in.

  38. Mark Silk is wrong about the Jansenists — they were saintly people, victims of the heresy hunters of the time, led by the Jesuits. Unless he means the deplorable satire of Pascal in Les Provinciales. Anyway this history has NO relevance to the present pope.

  39. “I’m not sure Pope Benedict ever went that far during his papacy calling something heretical.”

    Ratzinger was too clever a theologian to do that, at least as pope. The new pope’s use of Pelagian against the poor folk who gave him a clumsy spiritual bouquet, and pantheism or gnosticism against the sisters practicing Creation Spirituality suggests to me that he is giving hostages to fortune quite recklessly. When the media begin to pounce on his words they’ll have a field day eclipsing the todo about Ratzinger’s gaffes.

  40. “Jansenism influenced and impacted the church culminating in some of the scandals that caused the Reformation (even the church fathers/theologians at Trent admitted that some of the desired reforms were needed and good).”

    The only thing resembling Jansenism before the Reformation is the exteme Augustinianism of theologians such as Gregory of Rimini, to whom the Reformation owed something. Jansenism was not associated with any “scandals” except in the late 18th century, in the bizarre behavior of the convulsionaries of St Medard, Paris. Pitting Jansenism against Reforms is odd, since the Jansenists were reformers and were often dismissed as Calvinists in Catholic clothing. The Jansenists include some of the greatest names in French history and theology: Arnauld, Saint-Cyran, Pascal, Racine, Nicole, Tillemont. For your penance, visit the cell of Jansenius in the convent in Leuven (on what is now named Janseniusstraat) where he is still remembered as a saint, or Port-Royal des Champs, a holy place desecrated by order of Louis XIV, or St Etienne du Mont where you can pray between the resting-places of Pascal and Racine. The Jansenists also had a salubrious influence as spiritual writers on Anglicans. The Church could not tolerate them for one reason only: authoritarianism.

  41. It can be argued that Jansenists were the intellectual grandfathers’ of today’s liturgical progressives. They eschewed popular piety & public devotions preferring a sober, even stark “worship space” without sentimental distractions.

  42. #92 – good point, O’Leary and sorry for not clarifying the Augustinian and Pelagian controversies that led to the Reformation and Trent and that Jansen wrote 70 years after Trent. Yet, Jansen basically ignored and refuted the Trentan clarifications.

    Fact Checker (to clarify your re-writing of Jansenism controversy):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jansenism

    – scandals…..yes, and even a 50 year schism by a small segment of the Gallican church (you seem to see those as reformers who were against papal power – Allan, you might want to note this history; Jansen was anything but in terms of how you interpret Magisterium)
    – a number of papal bulls tried to negotiate and resolve these controversies
    – your sweeping generalization that this was Jansen vs. authoritarianism doesn’t quite fit the historical facts (your re-writing history)
    – at the core, the theological concepts of Jansen and his colleagues does not encompass or express catholic thought today or even in the last few hundred years
    – yes, Pascal did help correct some of the extremes of a couple of Jesuit over-reactions but you simplistically label the Jesuits as against the Jansenist reformers – it is a much more complicated picture. Pascal did help correct a couple of Jesuits whose writings went too far but Pascal was also rejected by his own collegues at the Sorbonne theology school.
    – McKernan’s simplistic equation of eschewing piety by liturgical progressives to Jansenism is humorous but is off the mark. (it follows with the sweeping generalizations of Allan about clown masses)

    Note: “Clement XI’s Unigenitus marks the official end of toleration of Jansenism in the Church in France, though quasi-Jansenists would occasionally stir in the following decades. By the mid-18th century, Jansenism proper had totally lost its battle to be a viable theological position within Catholicism. However, certain ideas tinged with Jansenism remained in circulation for much longer; in particular, the Jansenist idea that Holy Communion should be received very infrequently, and that reception required much more than freedom from mortal sin, remained influential until finally condemned by Pope St. Pius X, who endorsed frequent communion, as long as the communicant was free of mortal sin, in the early 20th century.”

  43. The Jansenists were indeed totally defeated, historically. So were the Conciliarists. But both were serious reform movements and were not associated with scandals. It is not a rewriting of history to say this; it is a banality.

    History is written by the victors. But the attempt to give the words “Jansenist” and “Conciliarist” an inherently bad meaning has not worked. They remain respected. We may even see a revival of conciliarism, as urged by Hans Kung and Francis Oakley since the 1960s.

    The Jansenists were Augustinians, and any refutation of them is almost bound to be a refutation of Augustine as well — Fenelon’s entertaining dialogues with the Jansenists are probably the best attempt to counter them without compromising Augustine.

    1. Joe O’Leary : The Jansenists were Augustinians, and any refutation of them is almost bound to be a refutation of Augustine as well — Fenelon’s entertaining dialogues with the Jansenists are probably the best attempt to counter them without compromising Augustine.

      Augustine taken to far, without reference to the other patristic authors, does lead to heresy. Further, it has historically done so a number of times, even before the reformation and the Jansenists.

      In any case, Augustine is not infallible, and his writings can include error.

  44. “Pascal did help correct a couple of Jesuits whose writings went too far but Pascal was also rejected by his own collegues at the Sorbonne theology school.”

    Not sure what you are referring to here. Pascal satirized Jesuit laxism in moral theology. Pascal was not a Sorbonne theologian.

    Did Jansenius, a Catholic bishop, “ignore and refute” Trent? It would be interesting to hear more about this.

    Jansenius was narrow, but the suppression of Jansenism by Church and State (as far as I know the papal bulls are not about “mediation” but are all negative; perhaps you are thinking of papal mediation in the De Auxiliis discussions, which did not involve Jansenists) — can be seen as a tragedy for tolerance and theological vigor within Catholicism.

  45. This whole obsession with “error” and “heresy” is what generated so much intolerance in the Church. No doubt the Jansenists played that game as much as the Jesuits (see the hilarious Jansenist-Jesuit duel in Luis Bunuel’s film “The Milky Way”). The 1713 bull Unigenitus is almost a parody of the syllabus of errors approach; some of the condemned propositions were alleged to be in St Paul… Paul V did better with the De Auxiliis discussions, refusing to make a judgment and telling the disputants be quiet.

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