I’m still reeling even though I went nowhere when most of the TAC either crumbled or went by bits and pieces into the Ordinariates. What transpired is that anyone who has an interest in liturgy, Anglican or pre-Pauline Roman, is at the bottom of the list of priorities. As far as the liturgy, traditionalists and Anglicans are concerned, the clock has been turned back twenty years, or more, or less.
From what I have been reading in Sandro Magister (The First Pope Named Francis) and Father Zuhlsdorf (How I received our new Pope.) shows an image of a holy man who obviously has a mandate to clean up the Vatican, the Roman Curia and diocesan bishops whose clerical obfuscation discredits the Church. It is for Roman Catholicism as if someone like Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone were made Archbishop of Canterbury.
Roman Catholicism of the future is clearly Latino and African. Those peoples form the majority of humanity and that’s where Christianity in a loud, exuberant and Evangelical form are booming. Roman Catholicism competes with Evangelical and Charismatic missions with a similar product – albeit with a different theological content.
I don’t think Pope Francis will actually do anything against the Ordinariates, the Fraternity of St Peter or anyone else. These groups are likely to be left to the tender mercies of episcopal conferences and perhaps a “benign neglect” as some call it. Anglican converts and Latin Mass traditionalists simply don’t matter compared with the millions of Latinos and their social concerns.
What this seems to mean is that those who went over to Rome under the Benedict XVI pontificate and those of us who remain in our independent communities are on our own in human terms. We have to manage without asking for legitimacy from anyone else.
One thing is clear. This is not the nineteenth century. The Pope is not Pius IX and there are no comparisons possible between the conversion of Newman and the stark reality of our modernity and the stakes of the world in which we live. Triumphalism is over.
I believe that Christ, in our messed-up world and churches, will be calling us – from wherever we are – to be with him because we are not against him. Even if I and many others have not the slightest inclination to become members of the Roman Catholic institution, we will be hearing many fundamental truths. I have done Ignatian retreats, and the two things that most stand out are the fundamental choice we make between God and Satan and the discernment of spirits. Saint Ignatius had incredible insight into the human soul. I quote from Magister about the supreme priority:
“The real problem at this moment of our history,” pope Ratzinger wrote in a memorable letter to the bishops, “is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.”
Everything else that the cardinals discussed before the conclave, the mismanagement of the curia and of Vatican finances, the long onslaught of sexual scandals, the internecine wars among churchmen, is nothing other than the dark side of this which is the Church’s reason for being: “to show men and women the way to God.”
It is the “filth” which must be swept away decisively, if one wishes the Church to be able to dedicate itself completely, without shadows obscuring it, to its sole and true mission: to revive the Christian faith where it is almost extinguished and to propagate it where it has not yet arrived.
We put to sea in our little boats, setting our courses for the same destination. We can only pray for fair winds and God’s grace.