Agggghhhh! Pope Francis is a MORAL RELATIVIST!!!!

Agggghhhh! Pope Francis is a MORAL RELATIVIST!!!! October 23, 2013

Oh.  Wait.

I can understand confusion. I can understand questions. But the strange spectacle of a combox episcopacy in St. Blog’s that seriously believes God has laid it on their shoulders to defend the Church from the Pope is breathtaking to me. 

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  • I am going to assume that you are serious that you actually do not understand. If that was a rhetorical device, this comment will not come off right.

    Papal powers are not constant across all matters. In some things, the Pope is just another man to be agreed with or fought against like any other. In other areas, he’s to be given great deference, with highly rare exceptions. I do not think that this is controversial among Catholics. Where the dividing lines are and how many categories of deference are there and which specific activity is in which category is where you start to see division and confusion.

    The combox episcopacy is a function of encountering Catholics who draw those lines and fill those categories significantly differently than you under the leadership of a Pope who is active in doing his job. This does not mean you are right and they are wrong a priori just as it does not mean the reverse.

    So how do you map out the proper levels of deference without manipulating the system so the Papacy is only powerful when the present Pope agrees with you on a particular issue? You abstract the question and keep records on your answers because bad answers will only work in the context of the present Pope. Good answers will work with any.

    Good luck on sorting that out.

    • bad answers will only work in the context of the present Pope. Good answers will work with any

      I think I deny this premise. Ideas as expressed require, for full understanding, the context in which they were expressed. Hence I’m sure we can find plenty of papal statements and actions that were perfectly fine pastoral actions and judgments at the time in that particular culture, but which nevertheless strike us who do not share their situation as incorrect or unwise. That’s not to say we can’t make any judgments on past popes, etc, just that the process is a lot more difficult and complicated than many people would like to believe.

      • I believe you are looking at this as a backwards looking heuretic while I intended it to mostly be a forward looking one with limited hindcasting. I recognize the possibility of this difficulty but don’t see that as coming up too often. This is something to apply to combox controversies, not necessarily scholarly analysis of popes several centuries in the past. In any case that part stayed in my head so it is fair to bring up the objection. I hope my clarification is helpful.

    • capaxdei

      ” Where the dividing lines are and how many categories of deference are there and which specific activity is in which category is where you start to see division and confusion.”

      I agree. I’ll add that I think a lot of the agita over Pope Francis is caused by Pope Francis drawing lines in places the agitated thought a pope couldn’t or mustn’t draw them — which is different from being agitated that he drew them in places he was free to draw them.

      “So how do you map out the proper levels of deference without manipulating the system so the Papacy is only powerful when the present Pope agrees with you on a particular issue?”

      In practice, a lot of people do this by manipulating the system so the Papacy is only powerful when they think a past Pope agreed with them on a particular issue.

  • Matthew

    This is a sincerely meant (i.e. non-snarky) question. As any student of Church history can tell you we have not always had good popes. I presume you would agree that we need to defend the Church against the likes of Alexander VI or John XII. Obviously these were very bad men. But to a lesser extant there have been popes who have been less than competent, less than sound. When and in what way would you say it is appropriate to speak up?

    • chezami

      Do you–seriously–believe that Francis is somehow analogous to Alexander VI? My point, as anybody can see, is not that the man is perfect, but that he has not, in fact, said or done anything contrary to the Church’s teaching and has, rather, articulated and lived that teaching very well. The *only* thing he is “guilty” of is saying things the make conservatives uncomfortable.

      • Stu

        Don’t be so sensitive. He didn’t say there were analogous at all. In fact, he made a point of saying the opposite.

        His point is that clearly we have had some pretty bad Popes in history who have done things that we would all agree are wrong. Therefore, to say the man occupying the Seat of Peter is above criticism is clearly not right. Therefore, isn’t it possible that we could also have Pope who is either incompetent or just executes poorly in some regard. In general is that possible?

        I’m confident that you would answer in the “affirmative” on that.

        Does that mean Pope Francis is any of those things? Of course not.

        The problem is that in response to extreme rhetoric and conclusions by some about Pope Francis, we have had an equal and opposite by some in reaction to them that equates even the mildest form of criticism of the Pope with sedevacantism. Binary is great for machine language. Not so much for human discussion.

    • Andy

      It appears, to me at least, that those who are suggesting that Francis is not sound or less than competent or even a bad pope are upset by three things:
      1. They are reading the secular press and making what is written what Francis has said- that is without reading Francis’ words
      2. Their particular issues are not being addressed by Francis I away that they like
      3. The desire for clear statements as the map to salvation.
      Each pope has his own way of leading, teaching, and pushing. Francis is more of the conversationalist who asks questions, allows for our own thought. Benedict was more of a European style professor, more directive and less open to individual responses, which is in the style that he was trained in.
      Instead of looking at Francis and comparing him to Benedict – look at him as his own person. This concern with what he says is overblown – he has yet to contradict anything that the church teaches. He is merely saying it differently.

      • Dan C

        These are not the only criticisms of folks like The American Catholic, or Rod Dreher or commenters on The American Conservative, or on Fr. Z’s blog.

        I maintain that the uglier comments held by prominent individuals are not being discussed.

        Benedict’s teaching which was almost the same as Francis’s was ignored by conservatives. He said the same thing, perhaps even more directly, than Francis and his commentary was never mentioned.

        The best example of this, still currently ignored by Akin and Longenecker is that yes, Benedict had clear teachings about the fact that atheists, and Hindus, and, yes, even Baptists, are saved. Yet these writers spent post after psot trying to assure readers that Francis didn’t really say that. While Benedict said the words that would freak out these bloggers’ readers more directly.

        I hold that conservatives actually avoided Benedict when they didn’t agree with him and refused to acknowledge the teachings he provided on matters they disagreed with. Francis, someone who is throwing those same views “in the face” of individuals who would disagree, is unavoidable.

        I claim that the thought that folks are mildy questioning, concerned, etc ignores the treatment of Benedict’s words by these same writers, teachers, and conservative leaders.

        I see Francis as Benedict’s mouthpiece. Which is really what the problem is.

        • chezami

          My own suspicion is that conservatives basically assumed that because Benedict authorized the EF he was “one of them” and therefore it was not necessary to pay any attention to him since he must undoubtedly be saying what they do. Any evidence to the contrary was dismissed as due to The Pope’s Evil Viziers. Weigel’s “analysis” of Caritas in Veritate seems to me to take exactly this “Prisoner of the Vatican” approach. Poor Benedict attempted to issue samizdat from his papal cell, affirming neo-con doctrines and hinting at the future canonization of Adam Smith. But tragically, his message was adulterated by the Evil Viziers. Now, however, it is patently ridiculous that Francis’ viziers could rein him in even if they existed. So conservatives are confronted with a pope who (largely) doesn’t care about their delusions that the EF will one day replace the OF and who goes on saying what Benedict always said, but now not in a way they can explain away and ignore. It’s going to be a long pontificate for those guys.

          • AnsonEddy

            I’m genuinely curious: Do you accept Dan C’s characterization of Akin and Longenecker vis a vis their response to Pope Benedict and Christian Universalism?

            • chezami

              I haven’t read what they’ve written so I couldn’t say.

              • AnsonEddy

                You know what? I misread Dan’s comment. I initially thought he was saying that Akin and Longenecker had mischaracterized Pope Benedict’s words indicating that Benedict held to a kind of universalism, but he didn’t say they mischaracterized them. He says they ignore him. So there would really be no way for you to react to something they aren’t saying. Sorry about that. Still it seems a curious accusation to level at them. Hope you are well.

                • Dan C



                  Akin refers to a book (which Longenecker will post about appreciatively at about the same time) which subscribes to a pessimistic census-taking of the afterlife, one ascribing to a lack of the virtue of Hope. Ratzinger’s sermon in a few paragraphs negates and redirects the questions and questioners to the important questions.

                  • AnsonEddy

                    Thanks for the engagement, Dan C. I’ll certainly ponder this. Which is essentially where I’m at right now.

                  • capaxdei

                    While I take your point that Ralph Martin and Pope Emeritus Benedict have different takes on the question, and may even disagree (I haven’t yet read Martin’s book), the virtue of Hope and an optimistic census-taking of the afterlife are essentially unrelated. We can only hope in what God has promised, and God has not made any census-related promises. (See also Francis’s comments about hope and optimism in his interview with the Jesuit magazines.)

                • Dan C

                  My larger points have been that many folks are unprepared to listen to what really has been said by Benedict. Part of that has been that what is orthodox consideration, (see Ratzinger/Benedict citations above), has been an untouchable discussion point for conservative audiences.

                  Longenecker, in an exchange with Sherry Weddell comes to salvation theory nearly insisting that a born-again “Jesus is my savior” formulation is required for salvation, which is not a Catholic thought. We see Akin appealing in his NCRegister essay to assuage Evangelical concerns.

          • Considering that a lot of the critics have no love loss for the EF (Janet Smith views it a sign of repression of “yesterdays Church”), there’s more to it than that. I think it was more that people just believed that their idea of how Catholicism exists is the only valid one, with everything having to be emphasized as precisely how they want it too be emphasized.

            • Stu


              I can’t speak for conservatives (ostensibly Mark’s tribe) or reactionaries (don’t know any) but I can speak for traditionalists who look to things like encyclicals when it comes to Church teaching and for the most part reject both political parties.

          • Guest

            Do you actually mean conservatives or do you mean reactionaries Mark?

            I’m a fiscal and social conservative with complete fidelity to Rome, the Pope, my Bishop, and respect the many diverse liturgical forms in the Catholic Church (from Charismatic to Extraordinary forms) and what is allowed by her. I am NOT pro-torture, pro-death penalty, pro-EF only Mass, or against revising immigration laws. I believe treating all people with dignity and charity is an ideal that I strive for and that I hope all of us can work toward.

            I will be teaching and raising my son with my values and have some confusion on if you are placing me in, because of my values, with people that I do not agree with. Conservatism is something that I fall under the category of, a set of ideas and ideals that I classify myself as, so when you go back and forth using conservatism as an interchangeable word with reactionary (or if you mean a different type of conservative, such as neo-con) it may be best to specify as such. There are many diversities in conservatism, liberalism, Catholicism, and a whole host of other groups as well.

            I realize that Dan C used the word and you are responding in kind using his choice of word. But I’d really like to know if you are against my values: which are pretty well explained in the wikipedia entry on conservatism (under fiscal and social) and which I have used and edited to fit where I stand:
            As a social conservative I am pro-life, oppose human embryonic stem cell research, oppose eugenics, human enhancement, support a traditional definition of marriage as being one man and one woman, view the nuclear family model as society’s foundational unit, oppose expansion of civil marriage and child adoption rights to couples in same-sex relationships, promote public morality and traditional family values, oppose atheism (especially militant atheism), secularism, and the separation of church and state; support the prohibition of drugs, prostitution, and euthanasia and support the censorship of pornography and obscenities or indecencies.
            As a fiscal conservative I believe in the economic philosophy of prudence in government spending and debt – that a government does not have the right to run up large debts and then throw the burden on the taxpayer.

            Are these areas in any way a concern for you? Please clarify as I am a frequent reader of your blog and a small time combox commentator and would really like to know your stand on this. Thank you.

            • Sigroli

              Nice post.

          • Dan C

            Weigelian analyses of Caritas in Veritate.

            Orsi, today, On the Square, First Things.


        • Andy

          I agree with you. The adulation of Benedict, for me was/is based on his liturgical decisions and his appearances. Many of these same people used the line “prudential judgment” asan explanation for ignoring what Benedict said. It was/is far easier to gaze inward and find self-satisfied assurance that I am “right with Jesus”, to find that EF is better, and not worry about others, except to convince them of their wrongness. It is far harder to take the Gospel message to those not like us.
          Benedict and Francis indeed are saying the same things. I maintain that the style of Francis – plain, blunt and making us personally responsible is upsetting. He is saying that merely looking inward and at liturgical forms is not enough. This is at best disconcerting for folks who question Francis, and it appears that it is causing unhinged responses.
          I really do wish that these folks read all of Benedict and not just those small snippets that made them feel superior.

          • danielle

            Wow, I find your characterization of traditionalists as people who find it “far easier to gaze inward and find self-satisfied assurance that I am “right with Jesus”, to find that EF is better, and not worry about others, except to convince them of their wrongness. It is far harder to take the Gospel message to those not like us” incredibly rash and untrue. For all your smug dismissal of traditionalists for not tolerating people different from themselves, you appear to have no patience with traditionalists and group them together in this spiteful, monolithic group. At the FSSP parish I attend, I see a lot of different people who do amazing things for the community and the church. Many have adopted children from all over the world, most participate in the Legion of Mary or other organizations that visit the sick and the lonely and all take their faith seriously. I’m a traditionalist and I’ve spent my entire working career with people on the margins of society: homeless, people with substance abuse issues, developmentally disabled etc and I resent being so hastily dismissed by you as something I’m not. And for the record, I’ve only heard support for Francis. I don’t think that it’s a crime to have a preference for a pope, and some prefer Benedict. That doesn’t mean that they don’t respect Francis. Maybe you should get off your soap box and stop judging people too.

            • Andy

              Your experience notwithstanding the Combox Vatican is full of people who find Francis to be at best unclear and then ranging to a heretic. The combox Vatican is full of people who claim the EF is more efficacious and the only appropriate way to celebrate mass. The combox Vatican is full of people who find only the wrong in others, especially those that are not like them. There are equally as many in the combox vatican who say the exact opposite. By the way that is the human condition.
              Where in my comment did I say traditionalists? Yes I was responding to set of comments that were about those who find Francis a problem, but I try to avoid the traditionalist vs. non- traditionalist dichotomy, because it is fruitless. For many non-trads Francis frustrating because he hasn’t frbidden the EF,he hasn’t allowed for married priests, or for women to be ordained. They are just as guilty of looking inward, and not carrying the gospel to people not like them. I see that among many people it is far easier to gaze inward, then to look out at others.
              I hadn’t realize I was ona soapbox, because the comboxes are really nothing more than soapboxes, with an electronic twist. You, I all of us who comment are on a soapbox.

        • Stu

          Dan, are you claiming that both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict believe and teach that atheists, and Hindus, Baptists, etc ARE saved or did you mean they have taught that it is possible for them to be saved?

          In other words, are you claiming the Church teaches universal salvation?

          • AnsonEddy

            Good point. I probably should have asked for clarification before asking the question I did. I took this at face value: “Benedict had clear teachings about the fact that atheists, and Hindus, and, yes, even Baptists, are saved.”

          • Dan C

            Benedict claims that salvation is possible for those outside the Church. He notes in the Seewald interview in the mid ’90’s that this happens on a large scale. He has a long discourse that answers this in 1964 (almost 60 years ago) and notes that the underlying question is different.


            The second thing I am absolutely clear on is that this point, that the popes have taught such on the matter of salvation is much more explicit than Francis noted, which caused no shortage of a hullaballoo in which Akin assures his audience that Francis did not say that those outside the Church are saved. And then goes on to very explicit dissection of his words on this matter, seemingly avoiding that it is quite orthodox, unless Ratzinger was heterodox, to assert salvation is possible outside the Church.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              You’re right about what he said, but it should just be clarified that he’s right about the possibility of people being saved outside the visible Church.

              • Dan C

                Ratzinger/Benedict is a German man who saw and loved “Christ in the Church” (compared to “Christ in the poor, etc) and one sees this in his Jesus Trilogy). To be fair to Benedict, he was precise and definite about who was “in” the Church (Catholics and Orthodox) and those outside the Church (everyone else). Ecumenists found him frustrating for these definitions.

                In one of his notations on this, he would comment that God does not need our intense theoretizations as to how ahe cam save outside the Church.

                Ratzinger/Benedict saw clear boundaires to the Church.

                • Andy, Bad Person

                  Such a statement would be counter to Catholic tradition, which holds that there is no salvation outside the Church. I don’t dare presume who God considers in or out, but a statement that one who is definitively out would be contrary to the Church’s longstanding teaching.

            • Stu

              Okay, you meant “are possibly” vice “are” up above. Yes, Catholic teaching does of course allow for the possibility of those seemingly outside of the visible lines of the Church to be saved. But if they are saved, they were “in the Church” whether they knew it or not.

              Honestly, I don’t know of a single traditional Catholic in my circles who disagrees with that one bit. What I do see is concern that such teachings are used to promote universalism and as an excuse not to evangelize or acknowledge that the fullness of the truth subsists in the Catholic Church which is the one and only Church. So while the possibility exists that an atheist, Hindu, Baptist, etc can be saved, the real question is whether or not that is likely. In response to that question, we should work to evangelize them as if they immortal soul depended on it, because it very well might.

              • AnsonEddy

                I don’t think it was Dan’s intention in his response to answer your question one way or the other. I think he very carefully sidestepped it, believing the question itself to be problematic. I think it is his position that assessing the potential eternal destinies of others on the basis of “who is in” and “who is out” is reductive and glib. But I could be wrong. I often am. This is not to say that I am endorsing the view, I’m just trying to seek an understanding of his perspective.

            • Holy freaking crap, that homily of Ratzinger’s that Dan C linked to is awesome. It is so, so good; so, so right on the money.

              • Ronald King

                Just read the homily and I agree. It is a shame that Benedict wasn’t more comfortable with being introverted, if he were he would have been a dynamic speaker who would have had the capacity to light the passions of all who seek the Love of God.

      • Dan C

        First Things today: on the square has a posting of an essay by Orsi using Weigelian analyses on Caritas in Veritate.

    • Dan C

      Conservatives reject what they term a “hermeneutic of suspicion” they claim is at the core of many theological advocates of biblical examination, liturgy, theology that evolves from the left.

      My claim is that the right now embraces the same “hermeneutic of suspicion” about anything Francis says, forwarding such notions that Francis is a bad pope, and perhaps a heretic in passive-aggressive ways.

      The same passive-aggressive tone one saw in the “birther” nonsense, “well, I want to believe the President, but there are so many questions, you know?”

      So, let me be clear: I hold such comments as the one by Matthew above to be a passive-aggressive, weak criticism, likening Francis to heretical popes. Nice.

    • kenofken

      The formula in the American Church is fairly straightforward. If you’re conservative, when Francis speaks out of line with Ayn Rand or the GOP/Tea Party, he’s just another dude with an opinion who happens to be Catholic. (Conversely, if he endorses pre-emptive killing or directly criticizes Obama, he’s talking ex cathedra).

      If you’re a theological liberal, the pope is lost in the weeds until he gets on board with ordaining women and gay marriage.

      He’s a good pope if he affirms what you know to be the Truth. If he doesn’t only YOU can save the faith from a renegade heretic on the chair of Peter.

      Ok, so that’s way snarky, but you have to admit it would make a decent story line for Dan Brown..

    • Here’s a rule of thumb. When they make an actual governing decision that is bad, say its a bad idea, and you are skeptical it will work.

      If it’s an interview where it’s possible to interpret it in an orthodox manner, and actually is quite easy, but most people simply don’t want to do their homework, and complain that it is “ambiguous” by which they mean “it isn’t phrased 100% how I, conduit of the Paraclete will it to be phrased” sometimes it is just best for people to keep quiet.

  • Diane Kamer

    I am so, so, sooooooo tired of the Francis-as-Modernist Meme. (Yeah, the modernists I know are always going around consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and stuff like that.)

    Just so tired of it. 😮

    And oh yeah…I’m just as tired of the “Every Novus Ordo Mass is a Clown Mass’ meme.

    Too many Chicken Littles. Haven’t seen any falling skies yet, though.

    • Matt Talbot

      I’m just as tired of the “Every Novus Ordo Mass is a Clown Mass’ meme.

      Me too.

      Let me say this about that: I am 51 years old, live in Berkeley, California, and went to Mass in the 1960s here, and have gone to Mass throughout the Bay Area in the last 51 years in a wide variety of parishes – and I can say the following from personal, direct experience:

      1. I have never seen a “clown mass” celebrated at any liturgy I’ve personally attended, nor have I heard of a specific instance in any local parish of one being celebrated.

      2. I have never seen anything consecrated during Mass other than valid matter – no jelly doughnuts, no Wonder bread, nothing else but unleavened bread.

      3. I have never been to a Mass that had liturgical dancers or similar theatrics

      4. The last time I heard the actual song “Kumbaya” sung at a Catholic Mass was probably…I don’t know, 1968, maybe? (Speaking of which: The thing about “Kumbaya” is, it’s not really a bad entrance song –
      there are better ones, I guess, but there’s nothing heretical or
      especially problematic about it that I know of: “Someone’s singing,
      Lord, Kumbaya [Come by here]” – this is a threat to all that is holy?
      From what I can gather, it seems to me the objection is that the
      hippies sang it, They’re Not On Our Team, and thus Kum Ba Yah is evil.)

      5. I have never (as far as I can recall) heard a homily in which clear, unambiguous heresy was proclaimed as the truth.

      Some of the above has happened I’m sure, but they can’t be anywhere near being pervasive, or I would think I would have encountered them by now.

      • As a resident of the bluer-than-blue Northeast, I can’t say “ditto” enough.

        • The worst abuses I ever saw at Masses took place at the all-girls’ Catholic high school in Seattle (Holy Names Academy) I attended for 1.5 years (until my parents, disgusted with the utter lack of authentic Catholic teaching we were receiving, pulled us out and started homeschooling us). The “Martin Luther King, Jr. Mass” where all the Scripture readings including the Gospel were removed and bits of MLK’s writings and speeches substituted instead, the daily Masses where liberal nuns would pass a basket of dubious bread around after the consecration (I’m pretty sure now, as an adult, that whatever that thick, chunky stuff was it wasn’t valid Eucharistic matter), and similar fun and games were pretty good accompaniments to the religion classes where our teacher, a former hippie, told us about her inner child and her psychic abilities while our health teacher taught us about contraceptives, dissed Church teaching, made fun of the “rhythm” method (clearly this lady had never heard of NFP) and pretty much assumed that the only ones of us who were not sexually active were the ones of us who couldn’t get dates.

          So the abusive Masses were just part of the general ugliness of that total moral cesspool. I hope it’s gotten better there, but I rather doubt it.

      • Marthe Lépine

        I could say the same thing of the few parts of Canada I got to know. It’s only when I started reading Catholic blogs from the US that I heard all those stories of weird liturgical abuses, and I had been wondering if I had been unaware to that extent of the problems with the mass as said since Vatican II. I am a “cradle” Catholic, I have always attended Mass on Sundays and often during the week, and I have never noticed anything that was reprehensible to the extent I have been reading in blogs. Thank you, Matt, for reassuring me that I am just normal… However, I would like to make a comment: I know that Gregorian chant is beautiful, enjoyed it when it was used, I loved great organ music, and I felt a little disappointed when the beautiful high altars in older churches were “disaffected” and partly hidden by tables that were way too plain to fit the rest of the building. But I have always thought that those things, although beautiful, were not essential to worship. Times change, and it is a fact that many people find change difficult to live through. However, I think it is a shame that what basically amounts to differences in opinions and tastes seem to be threatening the unity among Catholics. If people have different preferences, if they find that one way of doing things supports their spiritual lives better than the other, fine, no problem, to each his own, after all, God made each of us unique. But why argue with those who have other ways of seeing things? To me it is such a waste of time.

      • Diane Kamer

        Your experience mirrors mine. Thank you!

        • And mine! I mentioned on Amy Welborn’s blog once that I have never seen any of the clown masses or other types of liturgical abuse that the trads were describing and one of them said that I must have done so and was probably suppressing the memory! LOL.

          What gets me, though, is the way “abuse” is at least implicitly re-defined as “anything that offends my sensibilities” — even if it’s something perfectly legitimate allowed by Rome, like guitar Masses, communion in the hand, EMHCS, altar girls, etc. So some poor wounded trad will spend however many hours you’ve got to listen describing blow by blow the horrors of the latest Mass they attended containing all those dreaded tropes, something that is all but forcing them to run off to the FSSP, Byzantine or Marionite Rite, even the SSPX to save their faith/sanity / souls / children’s lives! They can do all that and never even mention anything the slightest bit unorthodox. The real hardcore rad-trads who actually think the the NO Mass is a heretical, Protestant or even Satanic institution at its core, aren’t nearly as much fun — I’m using the word “fun” in a relative sense, of course.

          What a waste of energy that could better be spent on something useful, like going out into the highways and byways to search for the lost sheep, as Pope Francis says. Too bad he’s the last person many will pay attention to.

          • Stu

            Well, I had over 13 parishes in my Navy career and I have seen the abuses. Sure, I haven’t seen a clown Mass (though they undeniably happen), but I have witnessed abuses of EMHCs, abuse of the Eucharist and Precious blood, priest allowing the laity to carry out duties on the altar reserved only for the priest, singing “Happy Birthday” to parishioners during Mass, priests ad libbing the consecration or speaking in tongues on the altar (though nobody there could translate what he was saying). Even went to one Mass in Washington State where the laity were standing around and talking and eating during the consecration. I’m sure I could come up with some other things if I really thought about it but they are probably better forgotten at this point. In my current diocese, we recently has a priest pass away who was notorious for such things. He had a “Wizard of Oz” Mass, “Superman” Mass, “Harley Davidson” Mass and “Leapfrong” Mass to name a few.

            So these things do happen and probably more than you think. The Vatican didm’t simply come out with Redemptionis Sacramentum on a whim.

            • contrarian

              I think that trads do themselves a disservice by pointing to severe examples of liturgical abuse in order to make their case for the TLM and the problems of VII. If something is technically abuse, then it is not proper use. I haven’t seen a clown mass myself; which isn’t to say I haven’t seen things that are clownish.

              It makes much more sense to consider the ways in which a properly and celebrated VII technically abuse-free Mass allows for so much nonsense. That is, a VII Mass can be entirely free of abuse but still be full of priestly-chattiness, banal music, severely edited scripture readings and pew missaletes, and armies of laymen and women doing most of the work. There is nothing that is technically abusive to the VII Mass in singing Haugen and Haas and even Kumbayah, for that matter.

          • contrarian

            “So some… trad will describ[e] … the horrors of the latest Mass they attended containing all those dreaded tropes…They can do all that and never even mention anything the slightest bit unorthodox.”

            Exactly. 🙂
            So much of what is called abuse is actually not technically abuse.

            And there lies the problem. 🙂

            • All I am saying is that trads should be careful how they talk and distinguish between matters of taste and actual abuse – most of us in the NO ranks actually know the difference. Most things trads say strike me as rhetoric and exaggerating for effect. Is there a kind of pleasure in making things seem worse than they are?

              • contrarian

                I agree. We should definitely make sure we are pointing out what is actual abuse as opposed to mere preference. This is all the worse for NO-Catholics who like their Masses reverent, free of idiotic music and chatty priests, and Epistle and Gospel readings not purged of hard passages (with corresponding pew missalettes).
                There’s nothing abusive about any of that. That’s all square, legit, and by the book.
                Catholics will sometimes complain about this stuff, but they have no right to, unless they want to criticize the NO Mass per se.
                Of course, I’m quite happy to do that. 🙂

                • chezami

                  And now you can bitch about the Mass I attend somewhere else, because you are done here. Bye! I’ve had enough Reactionary insults and blasphemies of the Mass I attend.

  • thomas

    As a traditionally oriented Catholic I’m disturbed by the overeaction by some about the Holy Father. Do I think the two greatest evils in the world are youth unemployment and lonely old people? Nope. But the Holy Father is human and will make mistakes…cut him some slack? If we can’t show our Pope love and patience then how will we show our enemies the same??

    • They’re pretty great evils.

  • Jason Hall

    I am growing a bit weary of the obligatory comment, on every blog post that is explaining or exploring something Pope Francis has said or taught, that says, “Yet another example of having to EXPLAIN what this pope is saying! Face it, he’s a hot mess and a danger to the Gospel! We never had to EXPLAIN what JP2 or B16 were saying!” Am I to take that to mean that a pope’s homilies, encyclicals, speeches, interviews, etc., are not to be ever discussed or given greater context by those knowledgable of the Catholic Tradition in which those statements were made? Is catechesis an evil thing? Should RCIA simply consist of handing someone a copy of the Bible and Catechism and saying, “Here ya go! No explanation needed!”

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Agreed. It’s like they never even read something JPII wrote. Entire books were written about the man’s homilies, for crying out loud.

      • contrarian

        You are right that JPII’s homilies and encyclicals were also a hot mess in terms of clarity, and that they needed lots of commentary (by hard working apologists and professors) in order to be made sense of. I myself can’t make heads or tails of what JPII is saying in his Theology of the Body talks (thanks, Christopher West, for explaining JPII’s thoughts on sex to me!). I used to assign sections of some of his encyclicals to my students, but stopped because they were so badly written and vague. It took too much time to dissect what he was saying, that we had little time for discussion. And anyway, I always found it odd that the most cryptic thing I was assigning my students came from a pope. It struck me as counter-productive to assign stuff like that to confused and lapsed Catholics.

  • Katalina

    Here are the facts as of seven months into this new Papacy. It is NOT just traditional Catholics who are concerned about Francis but even a few Bishops and a couple of well known blogger’s who are not concerned about the Mass. Even Protestants are concerns about him. Conservatives already know how Francis feels about them.

  • Robert R

    Blessed John Paul II once submitted to an interview with the respected journalist Vittorio Messori, who asked him if he was perhaps “obsessive” in his preaching against abortion. The Holy Father replied:“The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”