Ephemera XIII: Church Crisis Edition

Cardinal Raymond Burke is drawing a line in the sand over Amoris Laetitia. After news broke that Burke and three other cardinals had submitted five dubia in September to Pope Francis seeking clarification on some of the more controversial points of the papal document, Burke is stating that it may be necessary for at least some of the Church’s hierarchy to correct the Pope. I must admit that it is a bit surprising to see so many conservative and traditional Catholics supporting this course of action during a period when so many still hold to an absolutist model of the papacy. For instance, when the Eastern Orthodox suggest that it may be necessary at times for the Church’s patriarchs to correct an errant pope, Latins intoxicated with a high-octane conception of papal power will scoff. The Pope is the absolute head of the Church, they say, and the bishops are his highly honored (but practically powerless) helpmates. (These are the same Catholics who, for decades, have fought against the idea of any collegiality in the Church.) For my part, I see no problem with what Cardinal Burke is proposing; I just hope is that he can gather a strong band of hierarchical supporters before taking any official action. Of course, let’s not forget that Cardinal Burke is not the first bishop of the Church called to correct papal errors in modern times. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the saintly founder of the Society of St. Pius X, stood firm for the Church’s timeless teachings against the confusion sown during the pontificates of Paul VI and John Paul II. Indeed, Archbishop Lefebvre went so far as to submit his own dubia regarding Dignitatis Humanae in 1986 — dubia which were also not properly answered by either the Pope or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to news reported by 1 Peter 5, dear Pope Francis has said that “it is the communists who think like Christians.” John, who runs the Eastern Orthodox blog Ad Orientem, went understandable apoplectic over the statement. Allow me to quote him in full.

I’m done with restraint in expressing my views of this heretic. Communism occupies the exact same spot on the moral plane as Nazism. This Pope just spit on the graves of millions of martyrs.

Forget the Orthodox. How about the Catholics of Spain, Poland, Hungary, what used to be Czechoslovakia and Ukraine, especially the Greek Rite Catholics? “Scandalous” does not even begin to describe this pontificate. Where are the bishops and cardinals? Is there no one with courage in the Roman Church to call this man out? Is there no one who is willing to confront this man and demand for the good of their church his immediate abdication?

While it’s not entirely rare to find Orthodox Christians calling the Pope (any pope) a heretic, John’s indignation is spot on. Millions upon millions of Christians — Catholic and Orthodox — perished under the communist regimes Eastern Europe during the 20th Century and millions today still face persecution in China. What a shame to see Francis the Merciful once again speaking with so little tact or concern for his flock. No doubt these very foolish, indeed reckless, words will give comfort to certain Catholics who seem to think that Marxism, not the magisterium, provides the way ahead for “re-Christianizing” society.



  1. Woody Jones
    November 16, 2016

    Spot on, as usual, Gabriel. I noticed also that in Cardinal Burke’s most recent interview, he said that the Pope must serve Tradition, and the extent to which he does so is the basis for judgment of his actions, from which I take it that if we stick to Tradition, we are not entering into the realm of private judgment but merely adhering to the faith handed down to us from the apostles. Helpful in this time of disorientation and confusion.

    Perhaps on a related note, I attended a dinner given here in Houston last Friday for Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB, founder of the Benedictines of Norcia, and when I asked him, he showed me his rosary and his chotki, saying that they follow Byzantine, as well as Latin, spirituality. Another dot to connect with Patriarch SVIATOSLAV’s statement that the UGCC is Orthodox, with Orthodox spirituality, theology and liturgy, living as in the first millenium, in communion with the bishop of Rome, i.e. great minds are running on the same circles.

    1. Woody Jones
      November 16, 2016

      PS: “running IN the same circles” of course. Also I note for the record that i did not pick out the icon, or whatever it is, that appears next to my name in the above.

    2. Gabriel Sanchez
      November 16, 2016

      That’s interesting. I used to follow the Norcia recordings of the divine office online and I recall several years ago they had put up recordings of the Divine Liturgy being served there. I wasn’t sure if that was a regular occurrence or just something they did for a brief period of time.

      It is heartening to see Latin Catholics openly embracing the Byzantine tradition without getting into a tizzy about “crossing rites.” I just wish some of my Greek Catholic brethren would show equal appreciation and calm when finding out that some of us do indeed pray the Rosary.

      1. Woody
        November 16, 2016

        I also recall hearing Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem., prior of St. Michael’s abbey in California, say that they read the Philokalia in their novitiate.

  2. Dale
    November 18, 2016

    It is heartening to know that even after the more than a century of unremitting papolatry there can still arise a modern Ignaz von Döllinger.

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