Thursday, September 19, 2013
POPE FRANCIS: WHAT WILL THE “TRADITIONALISTS” DO ABOUT THIS CRAZY MAN?
A lot of people who call themselves “Church traditionalists” aren’t happy with Pope Francis. (See my Easter Sunday post, “(OUR NEW AND WONDERFUL PAPA) HAS POWERFUL ENEMIES” and today’s other post, POPE FRANCIS ON THE CHURCH’S VARIOUS OBSESSIONS: JESUS IS TRULY AT WORK IN HIS CHURCH for further illumination on the Pope’s problems with certain elements of the Church.) It’s not that the Pope has made any substantive moves that run counter to the Church’s conservative approach of the last thirty or so years and it’s not that he is likely to do so. This Pope is no radical; he was, after all, made a Cardinal by John Paul II, late in his papacy, at a time when it was nearly a requirement to toe the conservative line to be made a prince of the Church. But Francis is really shaking things up by his style, his approach, and his most recent pronouncements on such things as homosexuality, abortion, contraception, and women in the Church. (Again, see today’s other post.) The conservatives in the hierarchy, accustomed to their comfortable lives of being served rather than serving and perfectly content to spend the rest of their lives obsessing on tangential issues and excluding and castigating those who don’t simply pray, pay, and obey, have to be getting nervous. What is this guy going to do next?
But the “traditionalists” are in a bind. One of the doctrines to which they demand rigid adherence is the primacy of the Pope; we have to do what the Pope says because he is Christ’s representative on earth, the successor to St. Peter. While technically he is infallible only in limited, and few, instances, the “traditionalists” seem to believe he cannot be challenged at any time on anything. What do they do, then, when a Pope doesn’t agree with their conception of what it means to be a Catholic follower of Christ? Can they ditch their doctrine of papal primacy? If they do, doesn’t that put their other doctrines in danger of being thrown over the side?
So far, the approach of the “traditionalists” seems to be that the Pope doesn’t really mean it when he says crazy things and does insane things like refusing to live in the lavish papal apartments. I heard a few weeks ago, from a “traditionalist,” that Pope Francis is not living in the Papal apartments not because he finds their regal accoutrements distasteful and not in conformity with his understanding of the way Jesus wants us to live. No, sir. The “traditionalist” line is that Francis is not living in the papal apartments out of deference to Benedict XVI. Since Benedict is still alive, the story goes, Francis won’t live in the papal apartments because he considers those quarters Benedict’s home…even though Benedict doesn’t live there. Uh huh. Those peddling this story may be right; and the Cubs and the White Sox may play a subway series in 2014.
Such rationalizations on the part of the “traditionalists,” aside from being a short term strategy, give a hint as to the “traditionalist” long term strategy regarding this bothersome pope. It seems to yours truly that these quarters of the Church will square the circle presented by the combination of papal primacy and a pope whom they don’t like by arguing that Francis is not the “real” or “legitimate” pope.
The “traditionalists” will argue, in line with tradition, of course, that the Pope cannot step down, that he has no right to relinquish his position and must serve until his death. Thus, the real pope is not the poseur Francis but Benedict XVI, the guy who just loves the red Prada shoes and all the gold and regal finery the papacy has to offer and who spent virtually his entire papacy, and time as John Paul II’s doctrinal enforcer, obsessing over the very things Francis said are ancillary to genuinely following Christ.
That such a pronouncement would be self-contradictory (How can a pope, who is not supposed to be wrong in such important matters, have made such a grave mistake by resigning? Hmm…) will bother this crowd not a whit. Contradictions have never bothered them; just look at the riches of the
in light of the simple life of Jesus.
And such a rationalization will let them off the hook; they won’t have
to listen to the poseur who thinks he
is pope; they only have to listen to what the guy in the red Pradas had to say about
the inherent evil of homosexuality, the uppitiness of the sisters, the
unpardonable sin of contraception and other such nonsense.