Fr. Z who, like Cardinals Burke and Pell, usually says things which are faithful, helpful, and brilliant, has today, not unlike those two cardinals occasionally, written something discouraging.
While praising the Ancient Mass a few months ago Cardinal Pell added that there was ‘no future in it’, as if the way forward must be with the new Mass. Here the Cardinal in his thoughtful way was trying to lend faithful Catholics some insight into the mind of the Church leaders, but nevertheless it’s a great leap to assume that there is a hopeful future for the Church the way it’s currently operating. On the one hand, we have thousands of years of a Church only really checked through fear and violence. On the other, we have a Church set decisively to auto-destruct in a short fifty years.
There is a proven formula. It’s called Faith. Why do our best and brightest lights fall down and fold in the clutch?
In response to a reader question about sedevacantists (those who believe we live in a time of false popes) Fr. Z writes:
Following the path of orthodoxy means avoiding the ditches that yawn on the left as well as on the right. My old, late, pastor, Msgr. Schuler used to say, you can go into the ditch on either side of the road.
If truth is ‘apolitical’ as our wise, wise middle-of the road sensible friends love to repeat, then why must it be guided by two ‘political’ markers? What is this path of Christ? It’s a razor thin line equidistant between Barbara Streisand and Timothy McVeigh. Only those skillful enough to tread upon the razor can know of it.
That razor-fine blade of truth which we have to tread at times cuts through the jungles of doubt and error.
It is the narrow path which Our Lord spoke of.
Wrong. Staying on the Michael Voris side of Francis is not Our Lord’s narrow Catholic path. There are times in history when the Pope steps off the path himself. That doesn’t mean we need to turn the corner and smash our trombones into the wall like the marching band when Animal House hijacked the parade.
This is a leadership vacuum and it requires faith and action to resolve, the sort of thing so deftly performed at the Synod last month, not the low bleating of peaceful sheep.
In clinging to the Truth, we find great assurance in Our Lord’s promise that He will always remain with His Church. The Holy Spirit continues to (and always will) protect the Church from error.
While this is true, you sure read it a lot in Patheos these days. It’s no excuse to stand there gazing in some useless ‘we are not worthy’ trance.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you will say, “That’s all very grand, but what do we do here on the ground? There are radical divisions in the Church! Instead of being the beacon of light, truth, and clarity that Christ wants her to be, we are in a morass of confusion and contradictions?”
It has ever been thus in the history of the Church.
No again. It has never been thus in the Church. There has never been a time where such an enormous ratio of those calling themselves ‘catholic’ were in fact heretics and apostates. There has never been this level confusion among that ‘sensus fidei.’ There has never been a time when the Catholic communities around the world were so ruthlessly suffocated and morbid, left dying and scattered in a single generation. There has never been so much evil in what was called the civilized world, and there has never been a pope so unfaithful as Francis.
The ‘sit there and do nothing putting your ‘faith in the Francis’ because the Holy Spirit’ advice is wearing thin. By the way, I see Columba Bush has visited Ave Maria University in Florida recently. How very Republican and ‘catholic.’ Well, we must respect the process.
Imagine the difficulty of a good and faithful Catholic, in the 14th and 15th centuries, when three men appeared to have legitimate claim to the Papacy. Whom was one to believe?
Good men and women made different choices. For example, St. Vincent Ferrer, a brilliant man of great faith, a Dominican, followed the antipopes Clement VII (Robert of Geneva – the first antipope of the Western Schism) and Benedict XIII (Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor). On the other hand, St. Catherine of Siena, also a Dominican, followed Pope Urban VI. Both St. Vincent and St. Catherine are great saints.
I’ve never read that any of these anti-popes were heretics. Have you? There may have been confusion among the hierarchy, but I think most people knew both when to go to Communion and how to get to Hell.
In time, Our Lord – having allowed us to screw things up – eventually guided things back to where they needed to be.
In regard to the papacy, at least, our times, while difficult, are not as murky as those days. There is no rival to Pope Francis with even the slightest whiff of legitimacy. Those who claim that the See of Peter is vacant are hard pressed to explain just how that happened. Benedict XVI’s abdication was definitive.
Benedict appears, under pressure, to have resigned voluntarily. What his options were we don’t know. What does it say about the Francis papacy? I’d say it’s pretty much what we should have expected under the circumstances. Is Francis Pope? Well he’s the only one claiming to be. Is he someone a Catholic should look to for faithful guidance? No.
The sedevacantist train of thought goes down deep dark caverns of ever-more bizarre conspiracy theories. None have provided clear claimants or, were the See of Peter to be empty, a rational explanation of how legitimacy could be restored to some future claimant.
There are, of course, good people who follow unreasonable claims and theories. In the words of the immortal Gracie Allen, people are funnier than anyone.
And you don’t want to be one of those ‘funny people’ do you, or perhaps one of those ‘unqualified name-callers‘: impatient, hysterical, and so right-wing you’ve forgotten about that sacred balancing act that is the path to Christ.
In the post-Enlightenment world we see things as Right or Left, but these are not the margins of some path to God. They are a lie told to a darkened culture. Truth is a person. He walks ahead of us and we follow Him. Along this path conservatives are closer to the truth than liberals who are pointed backward and walking in the wrong direction entirely. Liberal ‘catholics’ are hypocrites whether their liberalism is religious or political.
Faithful Catholics follow Christ on His path. People call us ‘conservative,’ but if you listen to Fr. Z you might think there were bomb-throwing nuts out ahead of us!
Don’t let disorienting diagrams bend the truth for you, and don’t blame Francis on the Holy Spirit, expecting Him to clean up all the FrancisMesses while your head spins.