Pope Francis and Tradition
Pope Francis and Tradition
By John Vennari
I would like to make a few observations in light of the Vatican’s recent move on the Franciscan of Immaculata that encroaches on their right to celebrate the Old Mass:
1) Based upon Pope Francis’ statements against those who seek “restoration of outdated manners and forms” that he claims are “ no longer meaningful”(July 28) – along with other such utterances – it appears he has little love for the Traditional Mass or pre-Vatican II structures.
2) I have read Cardinal Bergoglio’s On Heaven and Earth (co-written with Rabbi Skorka), and his various speeches since becoming Pope. He is clearly a man of the new orientation; thoroughly convinced of the Council’s program of ecumenism and interreligious collaboration; an enthusiast for Charismatics; a Pope who publicly sends Ramadan greetings to Muslims, the list goes on. I have quoted various disturbing aspects of On Heaven and Earth in various reports over the past few months.
3) That being said, I don’t think it necessarily the case that, in light the Vatican’s recent actions against the Franciscans of the Immaculata, Francis will now follow through with some sort of suppression of approved Tridentine groups, such as the Fraternity of Saint Peter and Institute of Christ the King. I think he doesn’t concern himself with these groups, and probably sees little value in them.
4) As for the other drama that unfolded over the past 18 months, I don’t think Pope Francis will show any interest in the SSPX unless they open a string of soup kitchens.
5) However, the world’s bishops often have a sixth sense for judging which way the Vatican wind blows; and the wind does not now flow in favor of Tradition. Even the July 31 Associated Press reported: “Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis’ election with concern — and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such ‘restoratist groups,’ which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the Church in the 21st century.” If this is what is sensed by the secular press, I’m sure the world’s bishops sense it as well. And as we know, bishops as a group usually conform to the prevailing wind.
6) It is always perilous to hazard a prediction, but I will advance the following: Granted, I do not think Pope Francis will take an active interest in suppressing the Old Mass. However, if he is asked to make a decision between a traditional group and a progressivist bishop, or progressivist cause, I think he will favor the progressivists every time. This was certainly the case during Vatican II and afterwards. When faced with a decision, Pope Paul VI usually favored the progressives over the conservatives. This is what I think we will see under Pope Francis; and it is in this manner that Tradition will be disfavored under this pontificate (along with Pope Francis’ “positive” actions to advance the new orientation).
7) Along these lines, it is not unthinkable for the CDF’s Archbishop Muller to go on the attack against traditional Catholics (particularly the SSPX), and if he does, I think Pope Francis will not stop him. I also believe Francis will appoint bishops who are indifferent or hostile to the Old Mass – a troop of mini-Bergoglios.
8) In light of this, I think our people will need as much help as we can give them. I see the need to step up our efforts to clearly explain our position, to state with pitiless objectivity the problems with the Council and the post-Conciliar orientation. We do not do this as angry commandos, but with an approach grounded in calm, sober Thomistic realism. Granted, not every utterance needs to be contra-Vatican II, but these reminders could be a regular staple in what we present to those entrusted to our care. As I said, they will need help, since I believe our faithful will become increasingly marginalized as progressivism further advances under Pope Francis, and as we behold his further institutionalization of the revolution.
Finally, a sed contra to one of my own arguments: If Pope Francis does not really concern himself with traditionalist groups, as I speculated earlier, then I am not sure why he, apparently on his own without any promptings from anyone else, voices opposition to them, as he has twice done already (April 16 & July 28). It bears further watching. Perhaps traditionalists grate on Francis more than we think.