Oh what fickle hearts

Oh what fickle hearts

On April 18, those of us who consider ourselves conservative or orthodox would not dare hope and dream that Joseph Ratzinger would be elected Pope because of all the available candidates, we knew that he was the one most likely to bring about the renewal we were looking for. He was not a liberal or heterodox or even moderate or centrist. He was not even merely conservative. He was the conservator.

Less than a month after his election and suddenly he’s being labeled a liberal and one who casts away the traditions of the Church and for a rumored appointment. That’s right, a rumor. Sure, it’s got lots of backing from a lot of different sources, but it’s still a rumor. (And until it’s official, Pope Benedict can still change his mind ...)

The question becomes: If not Benedict, then who? If you don’t like this Pope, then who could possibly fulfill your expectations? If St. Peter himself came down from heaven to take up his office again, would we be happy with his curial appointments?

Pope Benedict will do some things that will make us ecstatic. He will do other things that make us scratch our collective heads as we try to figure out his reasoning (which he’s under no obligation to reveal to us). And he will do other things that will downright disappoint us. And that’s okay.

The Holy Father is a man, fallible like you and me. He will make mistakes and he will do the right thing, and the best we can hope for is that the latter outweigh the former by a substantial amount. Praying for him is the best way we can make that happen.

  • Some good food for thought Dom.

    I can just imagine blogging when the Church started.  We would have been all over Peter as selection of the first Pope.  “What! He isn’t even the smartest of the Apostles and he even denied Christ three times and ran away.”  Or the election of the Apostle to replace Judas “What he can’t even make an appointment without having to cast lots!”

  • Yes, Dom, wonderful words of wisdom.  How quick we are to jubilate “Hosanna!” one moment and cry “Crucify!” the next.  May our hearts be raised in prayer for this “humble servant in the Lord’s vineyard” whom God has chosen to guide His Church. 

  • On the other hand, we do not worship the Pope, we worship Christ.  If the Pope does something that subtracts from the worship of Christ, we have no obligation to follow him.

    The papacy is larger than Benedict XVI.  The Tradition transcends the current pontiff no matter who he is, and he must serve the Tradition, not vice versa.  The pope cannot reinvent the faith. 

    URI and the Tradition are polar opposites.  URI proposes that all of the world’s religions are separate paths up the same mountain to the same god on top.  Try to reconcile Kali with Christ.  It won’t work.

    Consider what we would be saying if Bishop Bruskewitz were being considered for the CDF.

    Bruskewitz has an interesting paper online titled “The Limitations on Dialog and Toleration.”  It mirrors what Benedict seems to be saying in Truth and Tolerance.  It does not mirror what URI is about. 

  • If the Pope does something that subtracts from the worship of Christ, we have no obligation to follow him.

    Who’s more likely to be right? Pope Benedict, nee Joseph Ratzinger, or me? Be careful of placing a stamp of infallibility on your interpretation of the Church’s Tradition.

    If the pope says something you think contradicts Tradition, you are misunderstanding one or the other. Otherwise, you have to throw out the doctrine of infallibility and you may as well start looking for a new church to join.

    Carrie, you’ve fixated on this URI thing. Benedict hasn’t said anything about URI yet. Before you start getting worried about it, why don’t you wait until there’s evidence that something bad has happened?

  • Rather than wringing our hands about this “rumor” let’s all use that new e-mail address and tell B16 and the Vatican what we think about the possibility of Levada heading CDF. (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

  • He has been one of my biggest heroes for so long!  How many Vatican observers predicted going into the conclave that Cardinal Ratzinger was out of the running, because of age or because he was considered too controversial? The rumormongers could be wrong this time too.  But if he were indeed to appoint Levada as prefect of the CDF, I’d have no trouble trusting his decision.  I’ve loved everthing he’s said since his election, and have been impressed to death by the way he loves and picks up his cross. As he said in his homily at his installation as Bishop of Rome, “The chair of Peter obliges its incumbents to say, as Peter did at a moment of crisis of the disciples, when many wished to go away: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  That’s always been one of my favorite verses. To paraphrase Igino Giordani, “outside of the Church swims an ocean of stupidity.” Dom, I am so glad you brought this up.

  • We’re no better than the bitter “loyal dissenters” if we’re so quick to judge and condemn and “make our voice heard.” I don’t want to be the equivalent of an armchair athlete, with little real knowledge and a very limited viewpoint, thinking I know how the game should be played. As the successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI is commanded to “strengthen his brethren,” (Luke 22:32), among whom are his fellow bishops, Levada included. So who knows? At the inaugural Mass, representatives of the various vocations (including the lay vocation) made their act of obedience to the vicar of Christ, representing the entire church.  For myself, I take that very seriously.

  • We’re no better than the bitter “loyal dissenters” if we’re so quick to judge and condemn and “make our voice heard.” I don’t want to be the equivalent of an armchair athlete, with little real knowledge and a very limited viewpoint, thinking I know how the game should be played. As the successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI is commanded to “strengthen his brethren,” (Luke 22:32), among whom are his fellow bishops, Levada included. So who knows? At the inaugural Mass, representatives of the various vocations (including the lay vocation) made their act of obedience to the vicar of Christ, representing the entire church.  For myself, I take that very seriously.

  • Consider this scenerio…

    Someone with some power or with some contacts who wants to see Levada appointed to this post has put out a rumor while claiming to have inside information, with the hope that he can force his desire on the Pope by using the media.  Sort of like the cave in to altar girls was forced on JPII by the American parishes.  From all we know it’s a distinct possibility.  Which is why quietly accepting this appointment without raising the alarm over the very serious problems associated with it would merely play into their hands.

  • Dom,
    On that great day, as soon as I heard Cardinal Estevez say, ” Joseph” I ran and woke my youngest son from his nap, got my Ratzinger Fan Club beer stein and put in a little apple juice for him. After he drank it I poured in a beer for myself and jumped around with joy. But you ask,” If not Benedict, then who?”
    Cardinal Arinze is who I was really hoping for. Even though my beer stein credits Cardinal Ratzinger with, “Putting the Smackdown on Heresy since 1981” I felt that he is really very kind, holy and maybe not as tough as Arinze would be. As the head of the CDF he was very patient with the heretics, apostate Bishops, and dissenting theologians.

  • I think we all need to chill a bit.  When he was Prefect, the good cardinal said that he didn’t much appreciate the job he had to do (can’t recall exactly the words he used, but that’s the gist).  Yet he did it, with firm resolve.  Will anyone expect that anyone he appoints – especially the bishop currently speculated – will long stay in the pope’s graces if he carries out the job with any less devotion to Truth?

    I’ve heard a lot about what Levada did while he was bishop, but what kind of work did he do when he worked in the CDF in the 70’s?  It’s one thing to be a diocesan bishop with pastoral responsibilities (and all that goes with it) and it’s another to be the Church’s head theologian where you go into the job every morning expecting that you almost have to upset people on purpose to do your job correctly.

    Even if Levada is named to head the CDF, I’m going to trust that Benedict has a plan in it, and refuse to get negative until or unless he accumulates a track record proving he’s not safeguarding orthodoxy the way his predecessor did.

  • I’ll give the Pope quarter when he asks for it.  So far, he’s only asked for our prayers and support.  Support does not mean being “yes-men”.  If the Holy Father wants to purge the Church of some of the filth which pollutes it, I’d like to help.  (Case in point.)  Let us all resolve to assist the Holy Father by our unwavering support for Truth and Divine Revelation.

    As for St. Peter, one remembers his being admonished “to the face” by St. Paul.

  • Let’s make sure we have the stature and credibility of a Paul before we start getting into Benedict’s face!

  • First off, not one of us is anything approaching St. Paul. And I’d bet it was done in the utmost of charity and respect.  I’m with Chris, I’m going to trust. What reason in all the world do we have to assume the worst of this man anyway? Where’s the benefit, let alone charity, in spreading rumors defaming him?

  • Maybe someone with 20+ years of experience in the specific job at issue, might, just might now, have an idea of the type of person that might do well, and also enjoy the position?

  • Please find my 5/5/05 message to Abp. Levada
    Attn:  Archbishop William Levada

    Please consider the responsibilities connected with serving as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith including the need to deal with Cardinal Mahony and other Bishops who are still trying to cover up the sex abuse problems in the Catholic Church.  Your position on homosexual priests is unclear in the article below.  ????  Please don’t accept the job if offered if you have difficulty in handling more than 1 problem at a time.

    God Bless,
    John Bettinger ,  801 Stoneybrook Dr.  Kettering, OH 45429 937 434-6400

  • “On the other hand, we do not worship the Pope, we worship Christ…”

    I believe that was implicit in Dom’s original statement, which is all the more reason not to be “fickle.” Besides, this URI must be a California thing, because there’s little if any activity here in Washington about it. Not that Washington is center of the universe, but you’d think, you know, sooner or later….

  • There’s an old tradition in the U.S. government that may be at work here.  When a president wants to act as his own Secretary of State, he puts in a competent, loyal administrator that’s otherwise a bit weak in foreign affairs.  That way, he’ll get faithful service without competition.  Prime example: JFK naming Dean Rusk.  Perhaps Papa Benedict intends to be his own defacto head of the CDF. 

    In defense of Leveda:  there’s a heck of a difference between running a diocese and disciplining wayward theologians.  A bishop has to worry about paying the bills, and he’s also much closer to the people he’s got to potentially admonish.  As nutty as some theologians are, they’re not likely to stage in-your-face confrontations that serve as stumbling blocks to the other faithful.  I refer, for example,  to the VOTF sit-ins: they’ve probably done more to damage the faith of confused lay Catholics in the Boston area than Hans Kung’s writings.  Disciplining a wayward theologian is a much less personally confrontational task: usually it’s genteel intellectual debate to admonish heresy, followed by administrative sanctions.  It’s not weeping victims and outraged protestors, coordinated by unscrupulous and media-savvy lawyers, and relentlessly pushed by empty suits and walking hairdos over the scandal-hungry MSM.  I doubt any parish collections have been reduced over outrage over the disciplining of heretic Jesuits.

    Many pefectly faithful and holy men are not good at confrontation and discipline.  Does that make them heretics?  No, it makes them weak at certain important tasks.  That means they shouldn’t be in that position.  In theory, they should be strong enough—- but they’re human.  I suspect that il Papa has the measure of his man, and is putting him in a position where he can best serve the Church.  I also suspect that many of the “more-orthodox-than-you” types ripping the Pope over Leveda would crumble within weeks if they were put into a bishop’s role. 

  • Concerning several of the threads posted above:
    1) I shuddered when I saw the Pope’s e-mail address being publicized for precisely what I saw from one post—urging disaffected members of the flock to flood his in-box with protests.  This typically American mass-communication protest will NOT work.  Remember, respect and religious submission of the intellect and will are the way to approach our shepherds.  My wife and I do plan to e-mail the Holy Father soon, but we will pursue it with the utmost respect and gravity.  We don’t want to abuse the privilege.
    2) I agree with Dom’s point that we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and realize that he knows more about what’s going on than we’ll ever know.  IF this rumor is true (and that’s a big IF), Benedict may be putting Levada close to him to monitor his tendencies, to help bring him along so that he’s closer to orthodoxy, or perhaps he sees something in him that we don’t see.
    3)  Remember that all documents coming from the CDF need to have the endorsement of the Holy Father.  Remember that the Holy Father cannot err in matters of faith and morals.  So, to my fellow Catholics, take a deep breath, pray, and rest assured that the Holy Ghost will protect His Church and the Pope from lapsing into heresy.

  • Dear Dom,

      If the right wing Pharisees could turn on John Paul the Great then why are you surprised that they would turn on Benedict? Many so called conservatives are really just as political in their approach to the Church as the NCReporter types. If they turned the Great One then they’ll turn on anyone.

  • Oh my gosh….some of these comments are absurd!  If the seminary doesn’t work out for me, I think I could make a fine living selling tinfoil hats

  • Q. How can you tell when a blog poster has completely lost his mind?

    A. When the green aliens in white suits show up in a black helicopter.

  • Do you really think that Paul spoke because he had stature and credibility?  St. Thomas, interpreting the event, didn’t think so: it is a binding duty for subjects to rebuke their superiors, even in public, if the faith is in danger.  Did the boy David let Susanna be stoned to death because he had no stature or credibility?  No, rather I submit to you that the present Holy Father would anathematize us for our silence, if we made it manifest and did not repent of it.

    For years, Catholics have been under the impression that nobody in the hierarchy was listening to their complaints, legitimate or illegitimate.  Now there is someone at the top who will listen to all of our legitimate complaints.  Now is therefore the optimal time for people to complain!  Speak up now or forever hold your peace.

    Or do you all think that Jesuits supporting Youth Gay Pride Day in Boston is something the Church should tolerate?  Remember what we have tolerated in the Church and what it cost us.  “Expel the immoral brother!”

    If a man like Levada, who did not deal appropriately with overt paganism in his own Chancery, is appointed to the CDF, then to whom shall we complain when paganism is practiced overtly in other chanceries and in our parishes?  Has Levada “manage[d] his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity” – 1 Tim 3?  If not, then how can he take care of the whole Church?

    “Many pefectly faithful and holy men are not good at confrontation and discipline.”  That’s true!  And they should not be appointed to the office of bishop!  Jas 3:1  The bishop must not flinch from a challenge to the faith:

    “Reprimand publicly those who do sin, so that the rest also will be afraid.  I charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these rules without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism.  Do not lay hands too readily on anyone, and do not share in another’s sins.” – 1 Tim 5:20-22
    “Exhort and correct with all authority.” – Titus 2:15
    “[A] bishop as God’s steward must be blameless…, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.  For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers…It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.” – Titus 1
    “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood.  I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock.  And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them.  So be vigilant…” – Acts 20

    This appointment is not a final act.  Can any other appointment besides the Papacy itself be of greater importance to the whole Church?  Let it not be finalized by our resigned silence.  When the Holy Father makes his final decision on the matter, then let us be muffled.  But until then we have the right and duty to speak!  “Tell Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you received in the Lord.’” 

  • It’s not really surprising, Dom.  When Benedict was elected, the left did a lot of boo-hooing because they weren’t going to get their own way, while a lot of cheering was heard on the right only because they expected that they would.  There really was very little praying going on asking that the Holy Spirit keep B-XVI under His protection.  What the HS wants to do with the Church is not necessarily what we think needs to be done (in fact, more often than not, it’s usually just a coincidence when this happens).

    Much the same thing happened with JPtG, especially in regards to his governing abilities.  But things aren’t always what they seem; I think he was a greater Pope than any of us yet realize.  If he had been a scalp-taker, would he have had so much positive impact on the young?  And y’know,  maybe – just maybe – there’s something very contemporary about the parable of the wheat & weeds.  Could Jesus be talking to this generation when He told that one? 

    It’s very easy to be Pope when you’re not, and conditional loyalty isn’t loyalty at all.

  • Dom—Amen. Amen. And Amen.

    I don’t usually jibe with your attitude, either, but this post is a rare example of when I do…. It’s moments like these when the long-standing Ratzinger Fan Club can either show itself truly loyal and beyond reproach or as… something else.

    I pray the base stays loyal—no squabbling please, we’re Catholic.

  • Here’s a pesky litte fact: LEVADA HAS NOT BEEN NAMED PREFECT OF THE CDF.

    Rinse and repeat.  A rumor, like any oral agreement, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    Until we hear who is named, aren’t there more pressing things to be done, like praying for BXVI?

  • Re the unconditional loayalty that one poster seems to think we laity owe to a pope.  It should be noted that in addition to dumping the tiara from the papal coat of arms, the papal loyalty oath was also discarded,  as it was by JPII as well.

  • Patrick Coffin: Because he hasn’t been appointed yet, we are free to criticize the potential move.

    orthodox: The loyalty oath, sworn by Cardinals of the Roman Church, was reinstated by JPII in 1996, effective for the next pope.  Persuant to JPII’s instructions, the oath was sworn immediately after the new pope was elected, inside the Sistine Chapel, after the Conclave concluded.

  • No one is condemning nor attacking the Pope.  Quite the opposite is recommended.  Let me explain.  What the liberal Catholic press, particularly John Allen of Nat Cath Reporter, and Archbp. Vlazny of Portland is trying to do is influence by rumor – or the Art of praising – what the Pope ‘should’ be doing, or should be ‘thinking.’  Benedict will not appoint Archbp. Levada as prefect of the CDF, but the Pope’s enemies (much of the U.S. hierachy) want to stir up emotions, speculation, turing the faithful’s trust away from the Pope with false inuendo.  So, we let the CDF know of this rumor and distraction, caused by one Archbishop and by the National Catholic Reporter.  This lobbying is commendable and is not only our right as faithful Catholics, but is also our duty (canon 212).  It is known as a Spiritual Work of Mercy and any soldier of the Church should not be made to feel they are unfaithful or light of heart for defending their Church.  If someone doesn’t have the stomach for this battle, don’t disuade others from defending the faith.

  • Thank you Barb.  I tried to make a similar suggestion about someone working to influence the decision, but obviously I failed to make the point.  You have done it very well.

    If we give so much loyalty to the Pope that we are willing to sacrifice Christ in the process, we belong to nothing more than a cult.  Our Church is 2000 years old.  We have much more to guide us than the words of one pontiff.  Not to speak up when a terrible decision is portended is to fail to defend Christ.  I would hope that no one wants to place themselves in that camp.

    Lee, if you are correct, and I have no reason to doubt that you are, then I sincerely hope the blogs are being read over there!

  •   I am not of the intellect of Dom, or Barb….but I have some thoughts. As my wife and I have fallen in love with the Latin Mass, the FSSP, and our local community, OKC, OK…..we have had an rude awakining to the state of Holy Mother Church….and I think that becasue the Vineyard is Devasted, our clerics and clerical leaders must be held to higher standards….we are not arguing about where to build the newest church, school, and convent…we are seriously watching, right before our eyes, the destruction of the Bride of Christ…and I think that meditation of Holy Week by BXVI of “ridding the Church of filth”…should be taken as something serious….and if the Holy Father “gets it” then the appointment of Archb. Levada doesn’t make any sense……so lavaish all the apologetic and strategy talk you wish…I think I will just judge a prophet by his fruit…and the fruit in San Francisco smells rotten…..

  • It takes a genius and a saint to keep a liberal so very close so as to watch his every move.

    God Bless,


  • If Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, who headed the CDF for the last 24 years, does not know who to put in the CDF and how to pick them, then I fear no one does.  Certainly not me.

    Pope Benedict may well make mistakes in his appointments.  But on this one? 

    I trust whoever he picks will be the man he needs to do what he wants done.  Whether that’s Levada or someone else.