Examining Priorities Against a New Standard

As every morning, I opened my e-mail and Internet, just like gentlemen in the old days reading The Daily Telegraph or The Times, or even The Guardian over their breakfast coffee and toast. I pay my fixed fee each month and I don’t have to send the dog to the newsagents! Anyway, to the point.

Someone who has become a blogging friend wrote What things may come…, and he comments on my articles whilst developing his own analysis. Other things came to my attention, but I’ll differ that to a later part of this article. Let’s firstly take things at face value.

I was amused to find I am not the only one to have coined the term Slum Pope whilst thinking of the heroes of nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholicism. As the slums in the west have been demolished and expensive office blocks built in their place, the slums of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and other cities on that continent remain. Poverty in the west is hidden and covered up – in Latin America it is on show, and the Church still has an “interface” with it for good or for evil.

When I went to my mother’s funeral, my wife and I had a trip by train from Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport, and there was a sight to behold in the Seine-Saint-Denis area, just by the railway – a bidonville, a slum consisting of derelict caravans and improvised shelters. These people are immigrants without papers and people who excluded themselves from society or have been excluded. And we live in the affluent west. Charity won’t do those people any good, only a thorough reform of politics and the economy will make any difference. Those people have either to be given jobs and food – or killed as some totalitarian “socialist” dictatorship would do.

My blogging friend takes me up on the idea that Catholicism is leaving the West and will undergo change as it caters for the so-called Third World. Catholics will be forced to examine their priorities against a new standard. We will find about the same attitudes to the liturgy as under Paul VI and John Paul II, and may find churches going back to the 1970’s. The so-called “progressives” are not going to fare any better, as they are not going to see the LGBT agenda vindicated or the ordination of women.

Pope Joseph may have shown himself as a simple man when he appeared on the Loggia of St Peter’s, but he was an authoritarian as Jesuit Provincial and Archbishop of Buenos Aires. We can expect nothing different as Pope. He may have the gentleness of a son of St Ignatius and a moral probabilist or Molinist. I see no sign of his being an aesthete – but rather an ascetic. I have known some real Jesuits, like for example the saintly Fr Hugh Thwaites in London, and they are truly either angels or demons!

So, the cause of liturgical aesthetics and even the integrity of traditional rites will be dropped as a “failed experiment” – but we will see… The progressives of Golias are no happier, and there seems to be a real grievance as most of the mainstream press is reflecting. Finally, are we to become Latino Americanos instead of gringos, or is Rome simply pulling the plug?

There is something very disturbing. In the light of all the scandals associated with covering up for paedophile priests, Vatileaks, the Vatican having a major share in a gay sauna in Rome, the so-called Dirty Dozen, we may yet get much worse than under Benedict XVI who was trying to do something about it. The newest shadow is a controversy over whether Bergoglio collaborated with the totalitarian regime in Argentina back in 1976 causing two rebel priests to be tortured and imprisoned by the regime. The allegations have been denied by the Argentine human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. There are some links to mainstream press articles to be found with Google. The most forthright positions come from the extremes Links of Pope Francis to military dictatorship (traditionalist) and Habemus papam – François Ier Bergoglio, une ombre au tableau (French left-wing progressive). This being said, these stories are being circulated by a mass media with an agenda which include the desire to eradicate religion. The dice are likely to be loaded, so we have to be careful what we believe without evidence and official statements. Also see Statement by Jesuit priest tortured under the Junta on the role of the Pope, which leaves me with an impression of Bergoglio’s innocence.

Perhaps something we British find most shocking is Pope Francis’ support of the Argentinian government in its continued claims over the Falkland Islands in spite of the majority of their inhabitants wanting to remain British. Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner suggests Pope Francis could mediate over Falklands.

Earlier this week, she [Kirchner] dismissed the referendum in the Falkland Islands, in which residents voted in favour of remaining a British overseas territory as a “parody”, likening it to “squatters voting to continue to illegally occupying a building”.

According to my source, this referendum to which she refers was held on the Falkland Islands according to normal British rules of referendums and elections on 10th and 11th March 2013. Out of the 1,517 ballots cast, only three voters were against keeping the islands’ current status. Turnout was over 90% with 1,650 islanders eligible to vote in a population of 2,841. 99.8% of the people of the Falkland Islands voted to remain British. If Pope Francis has a problem with that, then we can doubt his commitment to democracy and the modern world he wants to evangelise.

New standard? It seems to me that the new standard is transparency and the ability of the Church to stand behind the standard of Jesus and not that of Mammon, Satan, Totalitarianism, you name it. Honesty and clarity need to be the name of the game – so that the Church may be credible and be of appeal not only to those who are crushed by poverty, but also to those of us with the leisure to think.

In any case, if this is not to be and if the Church is entering a new period of darkness and obscurantism, many of us are not under that Church’s jurisdiction, nor do we misrepresent ourselves as such. We can just keep calm and carry on for as long as we need to.

There may be surprises, and it’s too early to judge. Already, most new Popes confirm the old cronys of the Vatican in office within a day of their election. This one hasn’t yet. Let’s see who’s going to be Secretary of State, Prefect of the CDF, Congregation of Bishops, etc. All that’s going to be telling.

We in the west might not be very devout, but we’re not fools. We’ve been ripped off before and we’ll be ripped off again. We’ve has Hitler and the various Communist leaders in eastern Europe. We still have shenanigans galore from our politicians with the same tired-out old stuff. Our world is tired.

If God pulls the plug on us, to whom can we go?

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3 Responses to Examining Priorities Against a New Standard

  1. Patricius says:

    I too find pope Francis’ stance on the Falkland Islands rather distasteful but I won’t comment on that on my own ‘blog as a large number of my readers are in fact Argentinian.

    You are correct that the immediate concerns of the Traddies are misplaced and irrelevant. The comments on Rorate Caeli pretty much said it all about their hysteric fear and hatred of anyone who doesn’t conform to their vile beliefs about 1962, Pius XII and Marian apparitions. To them I would say: your concerns are not worth thinking about, your time is at an end: kindly go off and despair in private.

    What I don’t understand about the idea of papacy is that if the pope is a bridge-builder, that his ministry exists to defend traditions, why then have all this unreasoned fear? History speaks for itself, of course; history has shewn that popery more or less depends on the incumbent of the See of Rome. This makes contemporary Ultramontanism even more anti-Christian and even a form of psychosis. You like one pope, your life is a state of constant euphoria; you weep copious tears in adoration of your lord pope’s liturgical example, setting up rows of brass candlesticks, celebrating Mass facing the wrong way with a smattering of Latin and even wearing a fine scarlet Roman chasuble on Palm Sunday…you don’t like the next holy father, for whatever reason, and your life comes crashing down. That one man, an elderly bachelor who lives hundreds of miles away, has this affect on people around the world I find to be in stark contrast to the witness of Scripture and Church Tradition.

    • Thank you for your kind comment.

      As you know, I am more “backward” than nearly all Latin rite traditionalists – because I use Sarum, albeit in a similar spirit as those Dominicans who still use the Dominican Rite go about things, without fuss or “campery”. I also remain outside the Roman Catholic Church and identify with Continuing Anglicanism, as much as it is possible whilst being “pre-Reformation”.

      However, I cannot quite bring myself to adopt a dialectical kind of thinking as some of your writing seems to suggest. I see nothing evil about the 1962 Roman missal, Pope Pius XII or popular religion. What is evil is people projecting their image onto the reality of the Church and showing intolerance and unkindness to other people. I too am shocked by some of the comments I read in Rorate Caeli, showing a very immature and shallow attitude on the part of some of that blog’s readers.

      My own attitude is that I’m cynical and sceptical about whether this Pope will do any better about cleaning up the corruption in the Church and rendering to the faithful their liberty of the children of God as opposed to being slaves of the law.

      I have also noticed the lack of RC apologist trolls on the blogs. I haven’t even had to “cut them off at the pass”. They’re not even there!

      But I’m not complaining… 😀

      Let’s just get on with what we believe to be right, teaching by example, and being kind to other people without rejoicing in their suffering. Even the rad-trads will find grace and peace through kindness and empathy.

      • J.V. says:

        Hope and skepticism are both equally healthy perspectives to have at the moment. Whether or not any one man can implement the measures to break down a wall of corruption that seems to support the very physical edifice of the institution is debatable and would most certainly take a miracle. The corruption within the Vatican has been there for centuries – things that old don’t go easy.

        The same goes for the cult of legalism – the only way to break the legalist piety in the Roman Church is to be willing to comprehensively address the problem. I’m not sure anyone knows how to go about that. To this extent, Benedict’s papacy didn’t help things – the aesthetics of piety always deluded the force of this theological message, in my estimation.

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