This Is Not Catholic

It has been a wild ride since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis.

Several times already, after making some commentary, I have been accused of 'attacking' the Pope. This has risen to a new level with my post on liturgy and humility in response to the asinine and divisive comments of Cardinal Mahony.

But here is the interesting thing. Many of the lines that I tweeted were things I wrote months ago for a possible post on liturgy but never published. When I wrote them, they would have seemed obvious and boring and 100% in line with Catholic thinking and the Pope.

But since I published them them this week, the are perceived by some as beyond the pale and an outlandish attack on the Pope. Same lines. Different month.

There is something very un-Catholic about that, Catholic in the universal and timeless sense. How can my comments seems like boring and obvious orthodoxy one month and an attack the next.

Something is profoundly wrong when the winds of change can blow so swiftly through an immutable institution of God's own making.

Suffice it to say, if my comments seem like orthodoxy one month and an attack on the Pope the next, what is clear is I am not the problem.

*subhead*I am not the problem.*subhead*

Comments

  1. "Something is profoundly wrong when the winds of change can blow so swiftly through an immutable institution of God's own making." Yep.
    Scott Wo

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  2. Interesting times ahead indeed I believe. By his fruits we will know him.

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  3. Yup. This all gives new meaning to the smoke of Satan entering the Church.
    Our Lady, Mother of the Church, ora pro nobis!

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  4. The problem is that people read too much into every little detail, because they anxiously seek validation from someone they barely know.

    This reminds me of "Life of Brian," when the messianic Jews watch everything Brian does, and exclaim, "It is a sign!"

    As the old lady says, Follow the gourd!

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  5. These are sentitive times, and if anything you write sounds even remotely like a "Trad" then retaliation will be swift and merciless. Your last three paragraphs made me smile only because those are the very sentiments us trads have been asking each other for years. For what its worth i favorited and retweeted your tweets and thought your article was right on. Unfortunetly, i'm all too familiar with what a real attack on the Pope looks like and what you wrote clearly wasnt. But emotions and sentiment rule the day, and thats just the way it is.

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    1. No one owns the Tradition of the Church. It is either followed or not followed.

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  6. I am not even a Traddie but I'm worried, everything is so politically correct; And the mainstream Catholic media is reverberating with "humility", but all I see is someone not assuming the office but asserting too much of himself into the office.
    I sense the loss of beauty and I am not talking about garbs and rituals. I appreciate though the "trappings" because the personality of the indivual becomes lost and the Divine comes into focus.
    I think though, he will make a lot of people happy because he is humble and will not offend anyone's conscience.
    Lord, I am sorry for saying this, and I pledge allegiance to the Catholic Faith and her teachings.

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  7. Such a charge against you is completely unfounded. Why are sincere Catholics committed to the whole Deposit of the Faith who express concern or dismay over certain things Pope Francis has done/not done in respect of liturgy, etc., being intimidated by such accusations, rather than the issue raised being addressed? This seems to have happened to many such faithful, sincere Catholics? These are Catholics who would defend the papacy against its enemies, to the death. What's going on?!! I hope this irrational and unjust behaviour on the part of some is short-lived. Don't be intimidated.

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  8. I said it on Fr.Z and I say it here. I blame Anthony Quinn for all of this. Bring him to me...
    -kford

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  9. Perhaps what you're experiencing is 8 years of pent-up emotion from those who were not lovers of the Benedictine reforms and who believe their time has come again.
    I think that, despite the good intentions of Pope Francis, the snares of the papacy and all they entail will inevitably limit what he is able to do.
    When you have the next bundle of documents to read and sign, the next head of state waiting outside your door, the next encyclical to think about, the next cardinal seeking an audience, the next balcony appearance, the next public audience, there won't be a lot of time left to travel on a bus.
    I have a hunch the papacy will not be quite what many think it will be, albeit liturgically more spare.
    I have two concerns currently: that the Ordinariates may be left to wither and that some local bishops will use the moment to discourage their priests from celebrating the TLM.
    As for Card. Mahony, it seems like a desperate "get out of a monastery" attempt and you were perfectly entitled to call him out. One may respect the office but not the man.

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  10. It has seemed to me that some of the time a lot more emphasis was placed on style than substance. We expected a lot of Benedict, he very slowly delivered on some of it, but his was not a monarchial papacy that kicked out the bad guys, and overrode the liturgical clowns to reinstate the SSPX over everyone's objections, despite what he chose to wear. I love Pope Benedict, and I appreciate the things he taught and did, but I also know that I was profoundly disappointed that he was unable to seize the day and make bigger restorations. He allowed people to remain in place who continued to commit greater sins against the liturgy we've seen from Pope Francis. The bishop of Rochester, NY, for example, who allowed women homilists. That is not a rumor, I actually attended a Mass in that diocese where that happened on Palm Sunday several years ago (under Pope Benedict!).

    Now we have a Pope who seems to have a very different style. His theology appears to be very much in line with Pope Benedict's, and there are a lot of people hoping that perhaps he will take a harder line with the pro-abort politicians, the bishops who want to cater to the gay rights crowd, clean up the messes that Pope Benedict was unable to manage. I suspect that just as the expectations for Benedict were so high he was unable to accomplish them, that there will be people with disappointed expectations this time.

    I think that it's possible and preferable to look for the positives instead of listening to rumors, many of which may well be styled to lead traditionalists into a trap (which unfortunately a lot of them have fallen into). After all when is the last time before now that any of us actually listened to anything Cardinal Mahoney had to say?

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  11. Ignore the trolls, and keep up this good and necessary work, Patrick.

    God bless you.

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  12. Anon, read The Spirit of the Liturgy by then Card. Ratzinger. There was no chance he was going to "seize the day and make bigger restorations" to the liturgy, that would run counter to everything he believes about the nature of liturgy and what went wrong after the Council.

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  13. I was really surprised when I saw how people were taking that post. All I could think was about what a jerk Mahony is.

    The response from certain members of the Church who are more traditional has made people paranoid and I think some are tilting at windmills now in an attempt to defend our new Pope from anything they vaguely see as an attack. It is disturbing... I thought your intent in writing the post was pretty clear.

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  14. Mr Archbold,

    I like your blog, but this is one of the most confused arguments I have read to date. The Church has the authority to change Disciplines, but not Doctrines. Pope Francis can change those "stylistic" elements he has changed without our assent and without being "not Catholic". If it were otherwise, Latin in the liturgy would be terribly "not Catholic," as the language of the Mass was changed to Latin from Greek (how could Greek be fine one month, and Latin the next!) The same is true for celibate priests, Filioque, etc - examples multiply endlessly.

    Now I'd love to see SC actually implemented correctly, as the Council Fathers intended, as much as anyone. I support Latin, chant and polyphony only at Mass, ad orientum worship, incense, etc. but, oddly enough the Holy Spirit and the Princes of the Church didn't elect me Pontifex Maximus. Instead they elected Francis.

    The only thing "not Catholic" is sitting in judgement on te Church rather than treating her as Mater et Magistra, as our Living teacher. Protestants can't agree about anything, not even sola file and sola scriptura, except the idea that each Protestant ultimately decides for themselves what is "Not Chrstian" instead of listening to the Church. Catholics defer to the Magisterium left by Christ, not just when it is easy, when the Pope and you (or I ) happen to agree, but even when, especially when, the believer and the Church disagree. That is when the rubber hits the road, the testing ground to see if you are " not Catholic" when it really comes down to it. Otherwise you stand with Luther, denouncing the pope as anti-Christ (the smoke of Satan) and quarreling with everyone until you are an ecclesial community of one.

    Pax tecum.

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  15. Dear Pat,

    Don't let the bas(eball)s get ya down. Your series of mini-observations on the liturgy are exactly right, especially the one about how the poor especially deserve richness in the Mass.

    I think that while our Holy Father Francis wears ordinary clothes beneath his vestments, he wears a (metaphorical) hair shirt beneath his ordinary clothes. Those three layers are a matter of first doing one's best for God and the faithful in his public office, then, secondly, not obsessing with one's self at anytime, and, finally and very, very privately, accepting suffering in silence and humility.

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  16. I loved all your answers to cardinal Mahony. They are beautiful, fantastic.

    Do not pay too much attention to reactions in the internet. A lot of people know nothing or misinterpret the text.

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  17. By the way, I enjoyed your pst on Card. Mahoney, who was obviously and cowardly attacking Benedict.

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  18. Very well said.

    This is a shallow, reactionary, and terribly time-bound way of reacting. It's happening all over the Internet.

    In part, I think, it due to febrile brains in overdrive thanks to the all-too instant nature of digital information gathering and opinion forming. But in part, it is also a testament to the poor formation of Catholics for whom the "magisterium of the moment" has replaced perennial dogma and praxis.

    We have become a rootless and restless people.

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    1. This is a very good description of this phenomenon. It is the dictatorship of relativism having infiltrated to all parts of the Church.

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  19. Mr Archbold,

    If I may be so bold as to ask, which part is patently silly? Paragraph 1, wherein I point out that the Church may change disciplines, not doctrines? Paragraph 2 wherein I hope SC will be implemented as written? Or paragraph 3, wherein I point out that Catholics listen to the teachings of the living Church, not their private judgements as the final authority on matters of faith and morals?

    Pax tecum.

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  20. When someone chooses to accept God's grace, either as a child or young adult raised in the Faith, or as a convert, he (the pronoun is gender-neutral) is certainly employing his private judgment (perhaps "critical thinking" would be better) in a situation involving his own eternal life. Since God grants each of us discernment / private judgment / critical thinking, He surely would not withdraw this faculty upon making one's profession of faith.

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  21. Nathan,
    In which you accused my argument as being confused.

    Since no disciplines have actually been changed since last month and that my initial comments referenced in this post are about the philosophy about the nature of liturgy.

    And since I am accused of attacking the Pope for saying things the Pope 2 weeks ago would likely have agreed with, I think your statement is silly.

    I am not confused. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Church's ability to change disciplines.

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  22. Put it down to folks being very, very defensive after a couple of weeks being "treated" to special attention from the media, and every whack-job around jumping for the spotlight.

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  23. The liturgical traditions of the Church need not cost more than the "minimalist" approach to the liturgy. Some of the poorest parishes I've been to have been traditionalist parishes. Traditional gestures, devotions and prayers do not cost more money than those of the Vatican II rite, and performing them does not harm the poor. Something else is at work in the "Low" approach to the liturgy. It's not humility or a concern for the poor but a new understanding of the Mass.

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    1. Exactly! And a "new understanding" of the Mass constitutes a "new understanding" of the Faith.

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  24. Im not against the OF, but you dont see the Eastern Churches constantly seeking to update the Divine Liturgy, just saying

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  25. Sounds like Rex Mottram Catholicism to me.

    "So you understand the dogma of papal infallibility?"
    "Oh yes Father."
    "Suppose the pope says that it's going to rain tomorrow. Does that mean it will rain?"
    "Oh yes Father."
    "But supposing it doesn't rain, what then?"
    "Well... Uh... I guess it would be, ah, spiritually raining. Only... We were too sinful to see it!"

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  26. The same statement can imply different things in different contexts. Complementing a woman's beauty can be good if you're at a formal party. The same compliment might go over poorly at her husband's funeral.

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  27. During these elections emotional, papal idolatry runs rampant and many rush to passionately defend they-know-not-what. I think it must be a form of superstition, the belief that some magical aura protects the Pope from all stupidities. Such magic keeps them content. There will always be Catholics like this, and they amaze you most when they come to you, weeks later, with the same information they pilloried you for previously. Then, just try to be gracious. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

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  28. Mr. Archbold, I salute you. Don't do any backtracking whatsoever. I've found that those who make such attacks are invariably ignorant of the true depths of today's breakdown, indeed often not even aware of the very existence of certain issues. All of us could do no better now than to carefully read the following excellent book:

    The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church by Fr. Matthias Gaudron

    I bid you cheers, sir.

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  29. @ Ivan K. BINGO!

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  30. Oh for heavens sakes! Would someone please go and get a dictionary and look up the word 'humility'? After that, grab some of the writings of the Church Fathers' writings about humility? Humility and being humble ARE actually considered virtuous in our Catholic faith!

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  31. True humility makes the best of what's around-- to keep in theme with Lent, you don't cook nasty food because it's Friday, you take simple food and do well by it. The idea of using "humble" and "humility" as a hammer on folks is... kinda painfully ironic, really.

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  32. Fr. Bill,
    For sure true humility is a virtue. It is what passes for humility that is in question.

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  33. Humility never seeks to draw attention to itself. This secularised world, including large parts of the Church, including Bishops and priests, have adopted the secularist virtues such as those that falsely pose as "humility", "compassion", etc.

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  34. I am somewhat confused as to what has called all this ruckus about Pope Francis I. If it were Cardinal Mahoney's remarks...well...okay? That he does or doesn't wear particular footwear or his surplice does or doesn't have lace seem pretty petty to me either way. I have seen nothing that would indicate that he plans to change the teachings on faith and morals (Tradition). IN fact, he has been much bolder in getting in the face of pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage types than almost all our bishops. The teachings of the Church are still true whether the pontiff lives in a mansion or a small apartment. They are true regardless of whatever he wears; they are not lessened nor invalidated by footwear or capes. ease up, people! So he prefers more personal contact than Benedict did; that is not a slight on either pope. I am not fretful nor fearful; regardless of what transpires, I know who wins the war...and the teachings stay true because they are true by their nature.

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  35. Or does some of this have root in the fact that the Cardinal I thought should have been pope didn't get elected? I had no horse in the race. The Holy Spirit does not have me on His board of consultors. My respect for the pope is not conditional to the amount of things that he agrees with me. It wasn't conditional when Benedict was elected, even though some had tizzy fits because he did have the red slippers and such. I look to the teachings on faith and morals. If the Holy father starts going against those..well...that is when he'll lose me. Fortunately, I don't see that happening. So, my heart will be untroubled.

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  36. ...
    Doesn't the article kinda explain the "root," no guesses needed?

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  37. No. If this is about Card Mahoney's tweet, as I said, okay? So what? Did we expect less? Was it anything the Pope did? I think not. Or does orthodoxy and footwear have some connection they failed to teach me in the seminary? I was not aware the amount of lace in one's ensemble showed a level of liturgical purity. Much ado about nothing. Holy Mother Church remains alive and well as does her teachings on faith and morals!

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  38. I was not aware the amount of lace in one's ensemble showed a level of liturgical purity.

    Good, then you SHOULD be in basic agreement, and able to debate the merits of the various means of promoting the best Mass possible.

    Anyone who genuinely respects and honors humility should recognize that you don't aim to be ugly.

    Look at the Pope, for an example-- did he demand burlap and dishrags, or simply choose something simple yet respectful?

    For a more day-to-day example, who is more humble: the hard working family that goes to Mass in their best, though mended, clothes, or those who go without touching soap or brush to make sure everyone knows how humble they are? Who is more respectful of the Lord? Those who try to bring beauty, or those who remove it and call the stripped bones "honest"?

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  39. First off, I have very unpleasant thoughts for Cardinal Mahoney. I adore Pope Emeritus Benedict, so that the Cardinal took such underhanded shots at him....the feelings are such that I cannot articulate them. Let's suffice it to say that I am unhappy with the tweets he put out there.

    That aside.

    Ok, so I have a serious concern here. I am a convert of two years, so I'm looking at all this without as much experience as a lot of the other folks here. However, I'm reading through the thread and I stumbled upon this gem:

    "He allowed people to remain in place who continued to commit greater sins against the liturgy we've seen from Pope Francis."


    Can someone explain to me what that even means? Seriously. Sins against the liturgy?

    Look, I'm sympathetic to the "trads" and I appreciate the tradition involved in the older forms of the mass and dislike some of the nutty stuff that pops up in our churches (why would there ever be a need for puppets at mass?). But sins against the liturgy! Really? Do we worship the liturgy now or am I missing something here? And what is most alarming to me is that this isn't the first time in the past four days I've come across comments that look a lot like people are worshiping the mass instead of The Lord.

    And before I am accused if being irreverent or whatnot, of course the mass is important. I understand the signs and symbols involved and I'm not trying to dismiss that at all. But the comments I have seen over the past several days from "traditional" minded folk are astounding. Like the assertion (that I read elsewhere) that if one is attending a reverent NO mass instead of the EF one is somehow "punishing" (and yes, that is the exact word used) one's soul. What?! Isn't The Lord present at both? And isn't communing with Him the whole point? How am I punishing my soul by reverently communing with Jesus? Does it somehow count less because the vestments aren't as fancy, or it's not said in Latin, or the priest isn't facing the altar? Really.

    Pope Francis has been pope for four days, folks. Four days. And in that time he has not celebrated mass with puppets, liturgical dancing, folk music, tambourines, or what not even once. And everything else he has done gives one the impression that he is a humble, gracious man who is better than solid on doctrine. If he does celebrate mass as pope and it includes some of those crazy things I will be as upset as anyone here. Not wearing the special cape and only putting on the stole for the blessing isn't cause for freak out territory at this point.

    Sins against the liturgy. Good grief, could it get any sillier than that?

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    1. Of course, there are sins against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of our Faith in God. Mortal sins, too.

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  40. Can someone explain to me what that even means?

    It's an anonymous poster. If it doesn't make sense, ignore it.

    What are some examples of these other folks that you think seem to be worshiping the Mass?

    ...the vestments aren't as fancy, or it's not said in Latin, or the priest isn't facing the altar?

    Having never had the chance to go to an EF Mass, I wouldn't know, but I do know that when I contrast the genuinely humble with the "humble" that I've seen, the problem is that everything is stripped with an intent to make a statement rather than with an aim to purity of purpose-- think the thing a few years back about glass not being suitable for the goblets, when I know I've seen stuff I wouldn't put out for company used before that.

    Or the "simple" vestments I grew up with, hand-made and hideous in felt, vs the inexpensive but beautiful ones my mom's birth-Parish had-- I can remember they had gold-colored thread, and the colors were vibrant.

    When you buy your mother flowers, do you go pick a handful of weeds because they are humble and look it's flowers the thought's what counts, or do you go find the most lovely flowers you can-- thistle or daisy or the one wild rose from the middle of the patch?

    Christ can be present in the worst places. That's no argument for deliberately putting Mass in the middle of a feedlot.

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  41. "How can my comments seems like boring and obvious orthodoxy one month and an attack the next."

    Simple explanation, Pat.

    You published these 'tweets/lines' in the midst of a near-hysterical traditionalist response to the election of a Pope that few of us know that much about.

    Had you written "'Humble' liturgies are like ugly babies, you pretend to admire them to spare your host's feelings. But the baby, while a miracle, is still ugly" several months ago, this juvenile line would have elicited little attention beyond your regular readers.Now, the cat's out of the bag now. The elitism of the traditionalist movement has been exposed, as has - sadly - it's fragility and immaturity.

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  42. I still do not understand why the traditionalists are all in a huff (aside of not getting Burke). I will tip my hand a bit and say I prefer an almost Cistercian simplicity about the Mass. That simplicity means a sense of quiet awe, purposed action, and chant. I also love Eastern Liturgies, particularly the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom with its beautiful chants and multi-layered symbols ( I also have a thing for full prostrations). I also love the Novus Ordo when done with respect and when focused on God. My vestments are simple without looking cheap, as is my chalice, and other vessels used at Mass. I am a big believer of less is more (with the exception of incense...love the incense) and noble simplicity. I do not begrudge those who like more as long as it is not gaudy or tacky (and let's face it...fairly effeminate). I have seen videos of the gatherings in LA with the Religious Ed (note I can not bring myself to call it Mass in any conventional sense of the word) and I am guessing that the Holy father would no sooner drag that into the Vatican than his predecessor.

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  43. *sigh* And blogger ate my comment. Of course. It had been more than 20 minutes since I last logged in.

    Picture of the Pope exhibiting simple but elegant-- and, notably accentuating a killer grin.

    Short version of the much longer comment:
    simple isn't needfully bad, but a lot of damage has been done to strike a pose of "simplicity." The symbols you mention, I've slowly found out-- heaven knows that the supposed "religious education" several parishes offered didn't cover so much as the Catechism, let alone Church history and symbols-- use to be a more universal thing.
    That is a crying shame.

    From what appears to be embroidery on various parts of the Pope's clothes there, I'd say he's just fine on the distinction between simple-and-respectful vs "humble."
    I would not go that far with some of those who take his presentation choices as a chance to get nasty about the prior Pope(s).

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  44. The evil one doesn't care how he divides the Body of Christ, as long as he does it. Now he's using the vehement adherents of every type of the Mass for that end. Successfully. To the extent that we foster or throw fuel on that fire, we are each responsible.

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  45. "What are some examples of these other folks that you think seem to be worshiping the Mass?"

    Not from you, obviously. And both Mssrs. Archbold have been fine. There is one entire blog, which will go unnamed, in which comments akin to "sins against the liturgy" have appeared abundantly over the past few days. That would be the same place someone commented that going to anything other than an EF mas was "punishing your soul." Seriously. The term "antipope" has come up more than once in reference to Pope Francis because of his liturgical deviation from the ideas of some quarters. I could link entire threads.

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  46. Hooray Patrick! You know that I am behind you 100% funny thing all this praise for humility and simplicity...the people praising it ain;t living it for sure! Oh yeah and if people have a problem witht he vestiture what wyould they say about the Vatican adorned in beautiful and mostly intricate art? Nothing simple there...I guess if Roger Cardinal Mahony had his way he would be a t Home Depot right now ordering up HGTV's latest color to paint over all the walls and ceilings there...
    Its so comical that he goes on and on about simplicity... How much did he go over budget on the "Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels"? $50 mil I have been there, it is certainly not simple, yet not beautiful...I guess he defeats his own version of logic...Sad...

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  47. Sorry Patrick I forgot to publish my name with the comment "Hooray, Patrick"

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  48. Fr. Bill Peckman: Every week I serve two Sunday Masses -- one EF, the other OF. Both are celebrated with ceremony and a certain splendor, but I trust nothing vain or superfluous. As one who has MCed hundreds of Solemn Masses in both forms, and trained others to serve therein, I can assure you that in a well done EF Mass, noble simplicity is observed by the utter lack of gratuitous elements. This is not the same thing as impoverishment or minimalism; rather, every action has its meaning and purpose and is performed without fussy theatricality. The EF Mass is a rich tapestry, but being the work of the greatest of artists -- ultimately, the Holy Spirit -- it possesses a sublime coherence, integrity, and economy. Do not be put off by elements unfamiliar or even mysterious to the profane life, but accept that, any authentic encounter with God being on his terms, it necessarily includes elements of awe, mystery, and strangeness -- none of which should be seen as worldly or self-regarding or irrational.

    Romulus

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  49. Not from you, obviously. And both Mssrs. Archbold have been fine. There is one entire blog, which will go unnamed, in which comments akin to "sins against the liturgy" have appeared abundantly over the past few days.

    Without context, I can't even offer empathy for the frustration. (Nope, not going diving for it!)

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  50. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, ultra-montanism is absolutely, totally run amok in the Church. And for many souls, the Church has become a cult of personality centered on the reigning Pontiff that even the very indirect appearance of criticism must be mercilessly attacked.

    I never even thought about Pope Francis in your post on Mahony. All I thought was that you were rebutting, quite well, one of the most destructive prelates of the Church.

    Amazing. This view of Papal primarcy is not what was intended, and is very, very different from traditional Catholic faith and practice. But, it has served the progressives incredibly well.

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  51. Allegations of ultramontanism always crop up on either side, whichever point of view the Pope has that's not liked by the other side.

    The Pope is the Pope. He's not God, he's not your diocesan Bishop. He's not to be worshiped, he's not to be dismissed out of hand because he has views you don't like.

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  52. If anything, his approach to finery shows two things.

    He's a religious priest who has an affinity for poverty.

    He's very Eastern in his outlook (was an Ordinary for the ECs other than the Ukrainians), so for him the papacy isn't a vestige of monarchism.

    I'm fine with either expression of papal authority. I would like reunion with the Orthodox in my unborn great-great-grandchildren's lifetime, so we will see

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  53. mrflibbleisvryx, you don't "appreciate" anything. Appreciation isn't followed by condescending, arrogant insults.

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  54. To Anonymous who's not a traddie but is worried,
    I think that the political correctness is a media-generated illusion. Even most of the Catholic press would rather not create controversy to kick off a new papacy. I'd like to see the Pope adopt a more "elevated" style, but he's far from "politically correct." He has, on a number of occasions I've found, been quite forceful in stating Catholic Truth plainly, and on a wide range of issues.

    I'm not into proclaiming someone's greatness a week into a job, but I think that it's worth remembering that it's only been a week... that Pope Francis has a lot more to show us. And, his career to this point has had some pretty awesome high points.

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