Both Pius X and you, Most Holy Father, received the fullness of the authority to teach, sanctify, and govern in obedience to Christ, Who is the head and pastor of the flock at all times and in all places, and whose faithful vicar the Pope must be on this earth. That which has been subject to a solemn condemnation cannot, over time, become an approved pastoral practice.
These words, taken from Bishop Bernard Fellay’s recent petition to Pope Francis before the upcoming Synod on the Family, should be common knowledge among all Catholics. Sadly, that is not the case. During his recent trip to the United States, social media and news outlets (Catholic and secular) were filled with the spirit of neo-Ultramonantism, shouting down anyone who would dare question any of the Holy Father’s words or actions as he addressed the President, Congress, the United Nations, and, yes, faithful Catholics as well. There is, admittedly, a contingent of American Catholics who drink deep from the well of (politically conservative) liberalism; their critiques — unimaginative, ignorant, and ideologically charged — needn’t be paid any mind. But there is a more serious, and apparently growing, body of believers who see in this Pontificate a noticeable, perhaps even radical, break with the reigns of Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and even Paul VI. To mention as much is tantamount to heresy in conservative Catholic circles, though liberal Catholics, the sort that expect the Holy Father to revamp the Church’s teachings on marriage and the family, have no problem identifying Francis as a “Radical Pope” destined to set the Barque of Peter on new course through the dark waters of (post)modernity.
The Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ, not the Oracle of God — a point that Fr. John Hunwicke has found necessary to drive home again, and again, and again. And just recently Elliot Milco, editor of The Josias and maintainer of his own excellent web-log, has started a series of posts critiquing the new Ultramontanism. The first two parts are available here and here; a third part is still in the works. Read them both. In fact, read them both twice.