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Who Did The Pope Just Attack?

Who did the Pope just attack?

Truth is, I am not really sure. Did he mean me?

(Vatican Radio) Christians are called to proclaim Jesus without fear , without shame and without triumphalism . Those were the words of Pope Francis at Mass this Tuesday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope also stressed the risk of becoming a Christian without the Resurrection and reiterated that Christ is always at the center of our life and hope. Lydia O’Kane reports.

“Jesus is the Winner who has won over sin and death.” Those were the words of Pope Francis on Tuesday morning during his Homily at morning Mass. He was referring to the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians in which the Saint recommends we walk with Jesus " because he has won, and we walk with him in his victory “firm in the faith."

This is the key point, the Pope stressed: "Jesus is risen .

"But, the Holy Father continued, it is not always easy to understand . The Pope then recalled that when St. Paul spoke to the Greeks in Athens he was listened to with interest up to when he spoke of the resurrection. "This makes us afraid , it best to leave it as is." Pope Francis said.

Continuing his Homily the Pope recalled the Apostles, who closed themselves up in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews, even Mary Magdalene is weeping because they have taken away the Lord's Body . " …they are afraid to think about the Resurrection." The Pope noted that “there are also the Christians who are embarrassed. They are embarrassed to "confess that Christ is risen.

Finally, said Pope Francis there is the group of Christians who "in their hearts do not believe in the Risen Lord and want to make theirs a more majestic resurrection than that of the real one . These, he said are the “triumphalist” Christians.

"They do not know the meaning of the word ' triumph ' the Pope continued, so they just say “triumphalism”, because they have such an inferiority complex and want to do this ...

When we look at these Christians , with their many triumphalist attitudes , in their lives, in their speeches and in their pastoral theology, liturgy, so many things, it is because they do not believe deep down in the Risen One. He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won.

"This, the Holy Father added, is the message that Paul gives to us " Christ "is everything," he is totality and hope , "because he is the Bridegroom , the Winner " .
Again, I admit that I don't really understand to whom the Pope refers.

I know that that in the past, progressives have used the term 'triumphalist' as a derogatory term for traditionalists. If this is the Pope's intent, I am just as confused as alarmed.

First let me say, I am not a fan of this style of speaking. The use of shortcut terms with a history of derogatory use does not seem fitting for use by the Holy Father. Additionally, the true target of his critique is obscured by its use. I have been reading around to try and see if anyone had more insight than I, but it seems that the confusion is general.

"They do not know the meaning of the word ' triumph ' the Pope continued, so they just say “triumphalism”

I suppose if this were true, that certain Christians repeatedly used the word triumphalism as their banner, this general confusion woudl not exist.

When we look at these Christians , with their many triumphalist attitudes , in their lives, in their speeches and in their pastoral theology, liturgy, so many things, it is because they do not believe deep down in the Risen One. He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won. 

Reading these specific words, I think they could easily apply to progressives within the Church who think that the simple message of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection and the redemption offered to us is insufficient. They believe that more is needed, that it is their human creativity that is needed to seal the deal. This attitude is reflected in their pastoral theology and constantly reinvented liturgy.

Alas, I doubt that this was the Pope's intended target.

If his real target is traditionalists, I think it would be better if he just said so. If traditionalists are the target, as many suspect, then I don't think that the critique hits its mark. For sure, there may be some few on the fringes that think every action of the Church infallible and put the 'triumph' of the Church ahead of the 'triumph' of the Resurrection, but I do not see this is not mainstream traditionalist thought. If aimed at a fringe subset of a subset, the critique hardly seems worth it and might serve to unfairly label many.

I am particularly alarmed by the Pope's reference to 'triumphalist' liturgies. Are we to suppose that anyone attached to the Extraordinary form should now be suspected of 'triumphalist' tendencies.

All in all, I do not see these comments as clear and their murkiness serves only to muddy.

*subhead*Huh?.*subhead*

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33 comments:

Genty said...

I've stopped trying to work out what Pope Francis means. Frankly, his words could mean anything to anybody.

Wreaklamation said...

First of all, I think that you should stop seeing Pope Francis, or any Pope, through a political lens (political here is a metaphor -- I'm not referring to political party). If we believe, as we are supposed to believe as Catholics, that the choice of Pope is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then we should interpret whatever any pope says in that spirit, and with humility. What is the Pope trying to say to ME -- not to my liturgical preferences, not to my style, not to my theology, even -- but to ME. Christianity IS relationship with God. What is Pope Francis trying to say to us about that? I don't have an answer, but I was disturbed by the tone of what you wrote. As Padre Pio said, Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry. And as I say, God is in charge,not us. Let him BE in charge.

1aefbf3c-1b09-11e3-8cc1-000bcdcb2996 said...

This is one reason why it's best to just consider oneself a Catholic, and not have a sectarian attitude where one considers oneself some special subset--you can be accused only of your own sins and not feel guilty by association or feel you are being accused of sins you did not commit when you are not named.

I read the Pope's message and he is contrasting what he calls "triumphalism" with the idea that it is Christ who has triumphed, not me/us. He then attributes such a belief to a subordination or a lack of belief in Christ's victory. Since I can sincerely say I don't do this, I take no offense and can consider the admonishment not for me (except as a warning not to become that way).

It is good for those who are upset by the Pope's words here to heed St. Jerome's advice to Rufinus:

"When anything is written against some particular vice, but without the mention of any name, if a man grows angry he accuses himself. It would have been the part of a wise man, even if he felt hurt, to dissemble his consciousness of wrong, and by the serenity of his countenance to dissipate the cloud that lay upon his heart."

1aefbf3c-1b09-11e3-8cc1-000bcdcb2996 said...

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KCKim said...

I have to agree with "Gently," even though I do what "Wreaklamation" says and try not to view the Pope's comments through a "political" lens. I don't think Patrick had a "tone" -- I think many of us are basically unsure what the Pope is saying and what he means on many occasions. So I've found myself pretty much not paying attention to anything he says; instead, putting my attention on my daily prayers, the Bible, and older Christian writings (anything from the first century through Pope Benedict XVI).

LoveNeverFails said...

I don't think that the extraordinary form is liturgical triumphalism. The liturgical abuse found in "We Are All Saints by How Much We Smile Catholic Community" rings far more triumphal than anything I've seen in the truly humble Latin Mass community in my area. It sounds more like megachurch, Gospel of Prosperity than

I think that you are seeing things that aren't there, grasping at slights that were not intended at you and turning a pope given to us as a Holy Father by the Holy Spirit into a perceived adversary. Not every remark the man makes needs to be mapped onto a trumped up "traditionalist vs novus ordo" conflict. It doesn't do justice to any of us.

Celia said...

Have to agree with Genty & KCKim - Pope Francis is often incomprehensible in these daily sermons. I'm sure he knows what he means, but unfortunately no-one seems to have had the nerve to tell him that he's not a good extempore preacher and that a little careful preparation and clarity of thought would help.
As it is, his woolliness lends itself to interpretations which may be far from what he intended.
Never mind, he was clear enough on the day of fasting and prayer.

Celia said...

Have to agree with Genty & KCKim - Pope Francis is often incomprehensible in these daily sermons. I'm sure he knows what he means, but unfortunately no-one seems to have had the nerve to tell him that he's not a good extempore preacher and that a little careful preparation and clarity of thought would help.
As it is, his woolliness lends itself to interpretations which may be far from what he intended.
Never mind, he was clear enough on the day of fasting and prayer.

the mysterious said...

Lots of pride on this blog from people who think they know better than the Church. You guys take some Papal statements you think you know theology. Dangerous.

I am not Spartacus said...

Meet the new Pope same as the old Pope.

Here is now Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger in 2007 prior to his abdication;


..Along this road, we must grow with patience and we must now, in a new way, learn what it means to renounce triumphalism.

The Council had said that triumphalism must be renounced – thinking of the Baroque, of all these great cultures of the Church. It was said: Let’s begin in a new, modern way. But another triumphalism had grown, that of thinking: We will do things now, we have found the way, and on it we find the new world.

But the humility of the Cross, of the Crucified One, excludes precisely this triumphalism as well. We must renounce the triumphalism according to which the great Church of the future is truly being born now. The Church of Christ is always humble, and for this very reason it is great and joyful.

Razing the bastions and repudiating the Church as it was prior to V2 has been our daily bread since the beginning of V2 - the revolutionary rocket that destroyed Catholic tradition - and yet still we find a majority of conservative catholics shocked to see a Pope starkly identify the reality of that progressive program.

The Triumphalism that is hated in the highest echelon of the Church is the Pre-V2 Triumphalism that asserts that Holy Mother Church is the one, true, Church outside of which there is no salvation and so that is why the modernists and their progeny, the new theologians, so rapidly accepted the new ecclesiology that will not tolerate such offensive-to-ecumenism definitions and instead changes the teaching in Mystici Corporis that the Catholic Church is the one true church into the new Lumen Gentium teaching that the church of christ subsists in the catholic church but also in other churches too.

Now, the CDF, then under the control of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, issued differing definitions of subsitit and yet the confusion remains today

http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/69/69.1/69.1.6.pdf

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Wreklamation If we believe, as we are supposed to believe as Catholics, that the choice of Pope is inspired by the Holy Spirit...

That is not Catholic Doctrine and, in fact, such a claim is contrary to Catholic Doctrine for Grace can be either accepted or rejected; that is the Gelaro-Wearers can choose either to accept or reject such proffered guidance from the Holy Ghost.

All one has to do to disprove such a claim is to identify more than a few Popes who were complete and utter disaster for the Church

John C. said...

Its confusing, for sure. I always gauge these things by checking out the combox over at Rorate Ceali. They dont like his comments, thats for sure!!!

I am not Spartacus said...

First of all, I think that you should stop seeing Pope Francis, or any Pope, through a political lens (political here is a metaphor -- I'm not referring to political party..

Dear Wreaklamation.

Pope Saint Pius X anticipated your objection:

For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists.

Terry Nelson said...

I would prefer he just say things straight up as well - I don't understand who or what he means half the time. I'm not sure if it is the fault of his 'editors' or what. I'm tired of the ambiguity and everything left open to interpretation.

I agree with what you wrote: "If his real target is traditionalists, I think it would be better if he just said so. If traditionalists are the target, as many suspect, then I don't think that the critique hits its mark."

Mitchell Hadley said...

@Terry - you're right as usual. Much more damage has been done to human relationships over the centuries by misunderstanding than by a clear statement of opinion.

And @I am not Sparticus - thank you again for pointing out the fallacy that the Holy Spirit chooses, or indeed approves of, the election of any pope. A pope is "given" to us by the Holy Spirit only insofar as the Cardinals acquiesce to the counsel given them by the Spirit. That they are free to accept or reject this counsel is an integral part of man's free will.

Carolyn said...

How much of this is what he says vs. how it's translated? I thought Pope Francis didn't speak English. Anyone who speaks more than one language knows things really are often lost in translation...

ProudHillbilly said...

Sometimes the people who shout the loudest are doing so in order to drown out their own doubts about their professed beliefs. I.e., the most triumphal-sounding could really be just be verbally battering to cover their lack of faith.

And what Carolyn said. I've become very mistrustful of reporting.

Suz said...

The Vatican Radio has another link to what he has said in the past about 'Triumphalism'. I think it helps understand what is written above...

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/30/pope__says_triumphalist_church_is_not_of_christ_/in2-696654

Wine in the Water said...

Translation can always be an issue, but...

When I view the Pope's words through the various ideological lenses of modern society, they can be confusing. When I try to pigeon-hole him into this or that ideological school, his words can be distressing. But when I stop, when I listen with my Catholic ears, his words tend to make pretty clear sense. When I stop listening to his words in order to find whether he agrees or disagrees with *me*, and just listen to what he has to say, there is so much there.


We have the tendency to put the focus on ourselves. When I read the above from our Holy Father, I see a warning against those who revel in how Catholic they are, how beautiful their churches and liturgies, how ordered their communities, and how exult in the "triumph" of how all this shows their status as the elect. But I also see a warning against those who are always patting themselves on their backs for their "true" Christian faith, their enlightened faith, how other people know they are Christian by their love. Both tenancies, and thousands others, lose sight of Christ as they revel in their Christianity. They allow the good - beauty in worship, love for neighbor, whatever - to distract them from the great that is God and can lose sight of the fact that the only reason they are saved is because they are sinners who needed salvation.

Jeff said...

I think that the Triumphalists may well refer to progressive liturgical abuses in South America where the Pope is from. See the attached video of a circus mass, with circus music, a carousel and roller-blading Angels, all performed in the presence of a South American Bishop! It looks "triumphal" and fails to recognize the power of the resurrection.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/07/when-clowns-attack/

Fr Bill Peckman said...

There are triumphalists on both sides of the ideological spectrum...at the extremes albeit. At times, it can look like a lack of belief in the Risen Lord, not as a matter of profession, but as a matter of attitude (although on the left, there are elements of denying the Risen Lord as myth). The focus is on the individual and what pleases their personal aesthetics, morality, and anthropology. The triumphalism I believe he speaks of is so pervasive that a broad statement has to be made. When what I say the Church should be supplants the teachings of Christ Himself, it is an action of self delusion where one effectively tries to triumph over Christ.

John said...

I've been thinking that he intended to chastise the extremes of both ultra-traditionalist and ultra-progressive. I've heard many times that one can drive off the road BOTH left AND right.

I can't see any other way to interpret this competently.

Godfrey Buillon said...

I've always thought that "Triumphalism" meant the attitude of being self-righteous or Pharisaical. I think we can see this in both the extremes of the Catholic faith. Over-thinking this statement is the problem.

Shane Schaetzel said...

I think in this context, the pope might be using the term in a sense that is foreign to Europeans and Americans. He might be referring to those Christians (particularly Church leaders) who have a triumphant attitude of pride, thinking "we have arrived" at our destination. We are no longer the Church militant, but already the Church triumphant. There is no need to fight sin anymore. No need to strive for greater perfection. No need to bring the message of Jesus' triumph on the cross. We have already attained our goal.

I could be wrong here, but that's how I interpreted it.

7fbc6254-eb65-11e2-85d7-000bcdcb471e said...

I read that article also, and from two different sources, and still can't figure out whom the Pope was referring to or what he was actually trying to say.

First of all, how would he know what someone else believes or the degree of what the Resurrection means to *them?*

Secondly, I have a hunch I know whom he's referring to but I don't want to fall into the same mind-reading game and assert I know what the Pope means.

To be honest, I haven't a clue what this Pope means about most of what he says. So much mixed messages.

Matt

LCG said...

Patrick, if there could be any doubt that you are spot on, it is dispelled by reading the comments here. They are all over the map in trying to pin down concretely and definitely to whom or what Francis was referring. The fault is in the Pope's unstudied manner of speaking, which is not useful.

bleusmon said...

LCG,

I have to agree. I've come to suspect that the pope is used to speaking casually, which was probably pretty effective on a local level, especially in a more casual culture like Argentina and the rest of South America.

In particular, his style seems to address a particular point or aspect which concerns him by making a sort of blanket statement which also has implications for related aspects he's not addressing. This is sowing a lot of confusion, and because one side effect is that progressives may find in his word choices proof their day in the sun has returned we are seeing the early signs of greater - and not lesser - division in the Church.

We need to pray for Francis to learn to be a better pope in his communication skills.

I am not Spartacus said...

Catholic Dictionary Triumphalism

A term of reproach leveled at the Catholic Church for the claim that she has the fullness of divine revelation and the right to pass judgment on the personal and social obligations of humankind. (Etym. Latin triumphus, public rejoicing for a victory.)

Our Pope is not hard to understand. He is an effete ecumenist who rejects Catholic Triumphalism but too few traditionalists are courageous enough to wake-up and smell the incense.

Already shoved down the memory hole are his actions ever since his election - from the refusals (vestments, apartments, rings, shoes etc etc etc) - to the innovations that are a rupture with the past (washing the feet of women, including a Mahometan) and wishing-away the content of his homilies and statements is a jejune response.

It is anybody's guess as to how long will they remain in denial pretending the Pope doesn't reject what they hold fast to.

The Pope, who routinely criticizes traditionalists, does not like you; he does not like your embrace of Catholic Tradition; and he most certainly does not like your love of the Real Mass, The Gregorian Rite.

He has a long track record of what he accepts and what he rejects but it is much more intellectually comforting to think that which he says really does not mean what he said.

Ecumenism is the universal solvent that is dissolving Tradition and invisibilium within the Hierarchy is that Prelate who embodies Catholic Tradition to the extent that could be used as a force applied against our Inertia into Indifferentism.

Match the Pope's words with his actions and what he thinks and intends is undeniable for those with a modicum of courage.

Mary De Voe said...

It is in the Resurrection that God, the Father answers Jesus' plea: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, not one of us is saved. The Resurrection points to Jesus' sonship with God (and ours), His Holy soul (and ours) and the forgiveness of sins (ours, sins which Jesus had taken with Himself through death to life.

Mary De Voe said...

It was after the Resurrection of Jesus that He instituted the Sacrament of Penance and the order to evangelize all the nations of the earth in His Name: "I AM"

Mary De Voe said...

It is a short step from "Christ is in all persons" to "Christ instituted all churches". Pope Francis has always reverted to the catechism of the Catholic Church and then there is canon law.

I am not Spartacus said...

Pascendi..

The Modernist as Reformer

38. It remains for Us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, some idea may be gained of the reforming mania which possesses them: in all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which it does not fasten. Reform of philosophy, especially in the seminaries: the scholastic philosophy is to be relegated to the history of philosophy among obsolete systems, and the young men are to be taught modern philosophy which alone is true and suited to the times in which we live. Reform of theology; rational theology is to have modern philosophy for its foundation, and positive theology is to be founded on the history of dogma. As for history, it must be for the future written and taught only according to their modern methods and principles. Dogmas and their evolution are to be harmonised with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been duly reformed and are within the capacity of the people. Regarding worship, the number of external devotions is to be reduced, or at least steps must be taken to prevent their further increase, though, indeed, some of the admirers of symbolism are disposed to be more indulgent on this head. Ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts. Its spirit with the public conscience, which is not wholly for democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity, and authority should be decentralised. The Roman Congregations, and especially the index and the Holy Office, are to be reformed. The ecclesiastical authority must change its line of conduct in the social and political world; while keeping outside political and social organization, it must adapt itself to those which exist in order to penetrate them with its spirit. With regard to morals, they adopt the principle of the Americanists, that the active virtues are more important than the passive, both in the estimation in which they must be held and in the exercise of them. The clergy are asked to return to their ancient lowliness and poverty, and in their ideas and action to be guided by the principles of Modernism; and there are some who, echoing the teaching of their Protestant masters, would like the suppression of ecclesiastical celibacy. What is there left in the Church which is not to be reformed according to their principles?

Woe betide the mean pleagian traditionalists who love the Gregorian Rite. Pope Francis has you in his sights.

Jerome said...

I think the Church can use a little triumphalism right about now. For too long has it been dominated by effete, inward looking, navel gazing Progressives. They look inward, are self loathing, and present a multitude of public postures which call attention to their haunted, nuanced sophistication. Vacant, dry, and abstract intellectualism ooze from their words. But, for all of their moral and intellectual superiority, they never fail to toe the Party Line.

Yes, it is all about politics. When your universe is confined to the Here and Now, politics is all you have left.

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