by Christopher A. Ferrara
June 16, 2016
The “traditionalist” or “Fatimist” view of the post-conciliar “regime of novelty” in the Catholic Church has never been about grinding an axe; nor does it involve personalities, grudges or the other base motives that fuel polemics for polemics’ sake. If anything, the traditionalist approach to the current crisis in the Church has been essentially an elaborate and well-documented presentation of the obvious: that the trajectory on which the human element of the Church embarked in the name of Vatican II has been ever downward, leading to ever more bizarre and frightening outcomes.
For decades the established Catholic commentariat, moving from newsprint and magazines to the Internet and the blogosphere, has been determined to deny the obvious by defending the patently disastrous decisions of Church authorities, from the Pope on down, that have produced nothing but what the former Cardinal Ratzinger called “a continuing process of decay that has gone on largely on the basis of appeals to the Council, and thus has discredited the Council in the eyes of many people.”
But all that has changed with the ascension of Cardinal Bergoglio to the Chair of Peter. For Francis, in all his recklessness, is showing to the Church — while the world applauds — that what lies at the end of the trajectory of the past fifty years is the dissolution of the Faith itself, if that were possible. Today, a growing number of Catholics who once belonged to the “normalist” constituency are raising objections to this pontificate’s continual demagogic assault on “rigorists,” meaning Catholics who hold fast to the Church’s teaching and discipline, particularly in the area of sexual morality.
For example, concerning Amoris Laetitia, the “apostolic exhortation” largely ghostwritten by the Pope’s loony friend, Archbishop Fernandez, author of “Heal me with your mouth: the art of kissing,” we read the following headline at LifeSiteNews: “Prominent Catholic academics say Pope’s exhortation presents danger to Church.”
Never in the past fifty years — never, in fact, in Church history — have we seen such an outpouring of concern from the laity over the heterodoxy of a papal document. This incredible development is the Humanae Vitae controversy in reverse: the Pope departs from the Church’s constant teaching in the realm of sexual morality while the laity defend it!
Nowhere is this sea change in the Catholic commentariat more striking than in the case of Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, head of the resolutely mainstream CatholicCulture.org and a constant critic of traditionalists over the years. In a recent sermon, Francis, alluding to the theme of Chapter 8 of Amoris, declared: “Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws’ rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’”
That was the last straw for Mirus. Clearly disgusted, he published an article entitled “On speaking the truth: Is confusion the chief ‘Francis effect’?” Therein we read:
It is patently false to claim that Our Lord teaches us it is perfectly all right to fail to accept the truth or to fail to live in accordance with it. It is also necessary to stress with the greatest possible strength that He never referred to “the way, the truth and the life” as an ideal….
We have known for generations that a great many Catholic leaders are sympathetic to the modes of thought which produce such deformity. The male religious order which most obviously represents this sympathy is the Society of Jesus. But it is still sad to see what is essentially a form of worldly accommodation and comfort manifested so clearly in the personal tendencies of a man who has been made a Successor of Peter.
Even giving the benefit of every doubt, there is a recurring pattern here that forces us to admit that Pope Francis shares some of the unfortunate personal tendencies of the new Pharisees…
When a layman in Dr. Mirus’ position feels constrained publicly to characterize the reigning Pope as one of “the new Pharisees,” it is obvious that the ecclesial crisis has reached a new stage — a stage of such severity it cannot go on much longer without a drastic resolution, no doubt imposed from on high.
This is not the time for gloating. It could not have been easy for Dr. Mirus to write what he did. He is to be praised for doing so — not only on his own account, but because his example of candor will encourage others who know the truth to come forward. And that is essential now. As the hierarchy remains almost entirely silent in the face of this disastrous pontificate, we see today the same reversal of roles that was evident at the time of the Arian heresy in the 4th century. To quote Cardinal Newman’s famous lines in this regard:
[T]he body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the Pope, at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while, on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them.
Justice requires that one give credit where credit is due, while charity commends the burial of past contentions. Thus I would urge my fellow Catholics to thank Dr. Mirus for his witness to the truth about our situation.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!