*This was a post I intended to finish and publish some time ago. A death in the family put it on hiatus for a while*
I have, in fact, been remotely following the family synod’s proceedings and it appears my opinion of how it would turn out (a temporary absolute disaster like the Council of Arminium/Rimini or a stinging defeat for the Kasperites) was likely justified. The Kasperite faction is too marginalized to do any widespread damage and anything they accomplish will be limited in nature since the ideals of marriage and proper understanding of Communion are too entrenched to uproot so drastically and suddenly.
Where I would like to focus is on two sides of Rorate’s opinions that chaotically at odds with each other. The first is gleeful that Kasper’s agenda has stopped dead in its tracks while the second bemoans the trend towards decentralization at the expense of papal power, citing the “heresy” of Gallicanism. These could not be more contradictory, for it was the second fact they deride that helped cause the applauded impasse.
Remember, it was those in the echelons of the Vatican who supported Kasper and his little cabal. This movement was, from its very inception, a brainchild of the episcopal “elites” in Germany, the Vatican, and the Americas. It was the local churches: in Poland, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Greek Catholics of the Middle East and Eastern Europe who rebelled. Whatever Frankie may believe, he is a pliable pope in the hands of a very sinister group (one need only remember Bugnini’s infamous “The pope wills it!” that he used to silence any debate on Paul VI’s liturgical commision). It was the Body of the Church that arose in revolt – like a survival instinct – to stop the really bad idea of a few brain cells. It was decentralization that kept things from being worse.
Decentralization has been a key part of the Church from its very beginning. The very reason Paul penned so many letters to so many peoples was due to this fact. Ignatius of Antioch’s famous letter that proves the existence of an early papacy describes a bishop who presides “in love” and not through some concocted pyramidal papal absolute monarchy. Even as the Constantian Church emerged from the catacombs, multiple sees – not one – became centers of the official patriarchates. The early Ecumenical Councils did not have the pope at their head to dictate policy; he did not even attend usually and sent observers so he could act as referee and veto the synod if anything went wrong (like at the Robber Synod of Ephesus). While I am not entirely sympathetic towards Gallicanism (the French King is hardly a good alternative to the Pope), some of its sentiments such as locally-controlled liturgy were noble ones in concept. Unfortunately any good ideas they had were squashed mercilessly with the bad (this is not limited to Gallicanism; I have met Catholics who defend the corrupt buying and selling of indulgences because in their minds Luther must have been wrong about everything).
Even today, the Eastern Churches serve as the greatest reminder that the pope does not and should not stand entirely alone, head and shoulders above all other bishops. It was the patriarch of one such ancient church that gave the single greatest rebuke to the false mercy proposed and rejected any notion that the Law of Moses was somehow more merciful than the Law of Christ. It was one such patriarch who also stood against the heresy of absolute papal universal jurisdiction at the first Vatican council.
Long life to his Eminence, Gregorios III!
It appears we still struggle with the phantoms of 1870, as many traditionalists have not entirely rejected the old ultramontanism and many modern Catholics live in a new ultramontanism as they buy up statues of Frankie and JPII “the Great”. It doesn’t matter how fallible a pope proves himself – be it the terrible judgments of Frankie, the ruination of the liturgy under Pius XII and Paul VI, the failed anti-modernist crusade of Pius X, or JP II’s disaster at Assisi – a great many Catholics will still lean on his every word.
A centralized papacy with no synodality is not the answer and defies all common sense. If Pius IX had his way in 1870, what many wrongfully believe would have been official dogma and I would personally have no choice but to reject it. If it was not for the votes of the Poles, Africans, and Greek-Catholics, we would probably see new dogmas allowing for Catholic divorce (it’s bad enough when the Chalcedonian Orthodox do it, but at least theirs comes with discouragement and the feeling that this is not a recommended thing; we would see no such attitude if the penance-averse Roman Catholic Church were to “imitate” them as they “imitated” Eastern liturgies with the Novus Ordo Missae).
Christ made Peter the first of the apostles, but not the only apostle. A pyramidal centralized fantasy of a Pian church where Paul cannot rebuke Peter is nonsense; it is not the church Christ founded. It is nothing more than a cult.
Obedience for its own sake is worthless. Many traditionalists who followed Lefebrve realized this, even if they did so for the wrong reasons. We see many of them now rising against “Bergoglio”, but I remember when they leaned upon Benedict’s every word (even if he was initially “that liberal Ratzinger” to them) just like the JP II fanbase who tuck themselves in with a copy of Veritatis Splendor every night while a photo of the Polish pope looms over their headboard. The traditionalists for the most part do not wish to return to more sane view of the papacy based on the Middle Ages or the Antiquity. They want zombie Pius IX/X/XII to return from beyond the grave so they can prostrate themselves before it like the women in Fellini’s Roma and scream,
“Come back! Don’t ever leave us!”
For those who have not watched the scene, it is quite terrifying and on the nose.
I used to think Cardinal Burke or Bishop Fellay as pope would be a great thing for the Church. These days, I have have come to prefer the traditionalists and the JP II conservatives united against a common enemy. An enemy that still haunts the halls of the papal palace.
The spirit of Vatican I.