Against Neo-Ultramontanism

I typically do not encourage readers to go check out other web-logs until my Friday “Weekly Reading” posts; but it comes as no surprise to me that Fr. John Hunwicke compels me to make an exception. Yesterday’s post, “Pope or Tradition?,” beautifully and succinctly expresses, through direct recourse to the Church’s magisterium, the authentic role of the Pope as the defender of Sacred Tradition.

Many Catholics today rightly express dismay over doctrinal dissent, but precious little effort has gone into the matter of certain prelates and laity manufacturing their own magisterium. The phenomenon of hyper-Papalism, or what I and others have referred to as “Neo-Ultramontanism,” is as real as it is troubling. For an alarmingly high number of Catholics, “the Pope is the Faith and the Faith is the Pope”; the Vicar of Christ has become the Oracle of God; and the desire for concrete representation as an earthly affirmation that the Church is “real” now loses sight of what that representation is truly of and for.

Don’t expect this grave confusion to go away this year. Expect it to intensify in the coming months.



  1. You’ve doubtless been following the discussions over at the Remnant in this regard. I was surprised to learn there that not a few Catholics believe that the Church as no authority over a Pope. That is, until he is no longer Pope – but who can tell, except for the reigning Pope? All very circular, hence the grave confusion.

  2. The probable change – (God forbid) – regarding divorce, remarriage, and reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, will probably be justified by all-important appeals to Eastern Orthodoxy and ancient eastern Christianity, i.e. the Orthodox pastoral practice and tradition of Oikonomia, etc. Therefore contemporary ecumenism and openness is part of the problem I think. The papacy and the synod (and Vatican II) will not be the only grounds given for the ‘development’ (innovation) ….

  3. Catholics need to defend against the errors Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, re: divorce, remarriage, communion, etc.

  4. Paul, your comments seem simply weird. The West has such odd notions and assumptions about the East, and on top of that to tee up to blame the Orthodox for something that is a mistake in your eyes made by your Magisterium only adds to the whole oddness of using the Orthodox approach as a whipping boy. Pretty sloppy.

    IF the RC Church were to do as you fear, AND even if some RC prelates say it is justifiable by appeals to Eastern Orthodoxy, it’s still not on our terms or context, but yours, and totally misunderstood.

    Remember how so many RCs made such a big deal about Vatican II being so open to Easterners, and the evidence put forth was Eucharistic Prayer #2? “See, we now have an epiclesis too! Won’t you like us more now?” Yet I can’t find much – if any! – positive commentary by any Eastern Orthodox about the total dump of the west by your own liturgical patrimony with all the Pauline antiquarian liturgical innovations. Just because your prelates want to innovate, don’t blame us.

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