Sunday, March 31, 2013


3/31/13, Easter Sunday

The Jesuit Pope Francis assumed the chair of St. Peter to the delight and enthusiasm of multitudes (See my 3/13/13 piece POPE FRANCIS: THIS IS STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A MIRACLE!) of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and the new pontiff continues to enthrall and surprise most…and unsettle, even frighten, many.

The Pope has tossed aside customs and set precedents on almost a daily basis:

--He has refused to live in the very comfortable, if not posh, Vatican apartments, choosing instead to live in two room quarters in the guest house he occupied during the conclave. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he refused to live in the archbishop’s palace, favoring a simple apartment, so this perhaps should not have come as a surprise.

--Francis refuses the gold cross, the ornate head gear, and the fancy designer shoes traditionally worn by the pope, the last of which were a special favorite of the Pope Emeritus.

--He included in the traditional Holy Thursday washing of the feet women and Muslims, making Francis the first pope to wash the feet of either Muslim or a woman. That he celebrated in a juvenile detention facility, rather than the Vatican, the Holy Thursday Mass at which this precedent was set itself broke precedent.

--Francis has called for priests to get out of the rectories and to get out among the people, to be true shepherds among the sheep.

--He has called for a “poorer Church.”

Even without making any changes in doctrine, and few think he will, the Pope has already sent shivers, with both connotations, down people’s spines. While most of us are delighted in what the Pope has done so far, many aren’t. As the Wall Street Journal reports this Easter weekend (March 30-31, page A8), a Father Joseph Kramer, a traditionalist in Rome who says Mass in Latin, says,

“We’re stretching tradition. Things are mutating.”

One suspects that Father Kramer is not overflowing with joy when making that statement; note the choice of the verb in the second sentence.

To go a step further, the a “traditionalist” Catholic website Rorate Caeli  Caeli (“drop down the dew, you heavens,” from Isaiah 45, 8, and used in the Divine Office during Advent) published its version of the Holy Thursday foot washing story with the headline “The Official End of the Reform of the Reform-by example.” The Reform of the Reform is the backlash against much of Vatican II by those who seem to wish it never happened.

Why the consternation in some quarters over Pope Francis? As we have been made painfully aware over the last thirty years or so, the Church is not composed entirely of good people, and ordination, or the desire for ordination, does not necessarily make one holy…or even good and decent. There are plenty of people, some powerful, some less so, in the Church who are in it primarily for its gaudier and showier aspects that the Pope eschews. These people like to dress up like priests and bishops, to lord it over people, to wear the expensive finery and the gold. They like the pomp and circumstance and crave the respect, the awe, that they feel their offices bequeath them. They have little desire to get out among the people; rather, they prefer to be placed above the people. They have even less desire for a “poorer Church;” the very notion offends their skewed sense of piety and reverence.

There are, to put it bluntly, sinister forces in the Church, and there always have been. The continuing existence of these forces in the Church is one of the conditions Jesus was addressing in His parable of the weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13, 24-31). These forces are doubtless displeased with the direction Pope Francis would like to take the Church. Most of these priests, bishops, and their lay henchmen are not, or at least not yet, expressing their displeasure in the open, but these are not courageous people; they prefer to work in the shadows, to talk behind people’s backs, and blindside their targets. But they didn’t take their jobs to work among the people or to be “poorer.” And many of them would just love to live in the luxurious Vatican apartments and wear fancy red designer shoes. These people will do all they can to make life difficult for Pope Francis. They simply cannot fathom even the possibility of another John XXIII (Again, see my 3/13/13 piece.); such a shake-up would spoil their very comfortable lives.

While there is much wisdom in the old expression that you’re not paranoid when they ARE out to get you, I’m not being paranoid here I am just counseling our good Papa to be very careful. To quote Michael Corleone in the much, and overly, derided Godfather Part III, “This Pope has powerful enemies.”

Blessed Easter to our new and wonderful Papa and to all of you.


Anonymous said...

Good read... What ironic time to have a new Pope ; just in time for Easter... He seems very wise and humble a million times over. We need many more men like him in the world.

God bless

Mighty Quinn said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. All God's blessings to you and yours.

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