Thursday, January 22, 2015

On watching papal politics, or not

Believe it or not, I don't, much. Why? I have the Mass and our doctrine, which Popes and councils can't change. The trouble with commentary on Vatican politics is it can be construed as feeding liberals'/secularists' wishful thinking that with the "right" kinds of Popes and bishops, they can orchestrate such change by decree or vote. Like in the '60s, when the Rockefellers ginned up the world's including Catholics' idea that approving the new Pill was about to happen, "helped" by John XXIII foolishly (yes) calling Vatican II at all. The most John's commission on the subject could do was teach the church's teaching, which Paul VI eventually did, taking the backlash like a hero, the only good point of his reign. This commentator, however, is sound, taking Fr. Longenecker's "Twelve cardinals to watch" as his starting point. By the way, there's the famous expression "he who enters the conclave a Pope comes out a cardinal."

But if Cardinal O'Malley, who received a quasi-sacramental from a woman Methodist minister at a Methodist service (not formally heretical but still), got in, I can imagine taking cover at the SSPX*. (100 years from now: Lefebvre for saint.) If he rolled back Benedict's reform of English Novus Ordo, I'd probably go. It'd be Francis² or Paul VI³. Except: unlike 1968, most churchgoing Catholics, having experienced liberalism in church, aren't keen on it anymore. Unlike then, the church kids want my Mass. The reform of the reform, under way since late in John Paul II's reign and based on our doctrine, won't stop. I credit the Holy Spirit. (Using the same line '80s church liberals and neocons tried on me: "Be open to the Spirit!") By the way, if I didn't understand people or the church, I'd try to be liked by having women priests as the cardinal once rhetorically said ("if it were up to me," his and the church's point being it's not).
This is superficial analysis. The next conclave is not going to be decided by demographics and experience, like a presidential election or something, but by Vatican corridor politics.

The progressive element that was aching to get JPII to resign in the early 90's backed ++Bergoglio in 2005 and the JPII loyalists rallied around ++Ratzinger and won. In 2013 "Team Bergoglio" prevailed, with the Ratzingerians dividing their votes between cardinals Scola and Ouellet (the latter was the first to fold to Bergoglio's lead; after that it was a
fait accompli for "Team Scola").

While I'd hesitate to describe the Pope's appointments to the College as mainline liberals, it's safe to say that he considers them reliable. The second batch was selected in light of the fiasco of the 2014 session of the Synod; it is probable they were chosen to create more of a consensus in the 2015 session. In any event the fault line for the "2017 conclave" (assuming Pope Francis abdicates in the time frame he has speculated on) will be identical to that of the Synod: in one corner Team Bergoglio, backing Cardinal Tagle, a young candidate in the Francis mold, and in the other corner Synodal Conservatives led by cardinals Pell and Burke, supporting a credible orthodox alternate, probably ++Mueller.

Team Bergoglio has the numerical advantage because Pope Francis has been stacking the deck with "his men," but I personally believe that many churchmen are secretly as puzzled and frustrated with the pontificate as much of the laity; it is entirely possible they have soured on this "Cool Pope" experiment. This is the X factor of the next conclave. For it to make a difference, *a lot* of them need to cross the aisle so to speak. Stay tuned.
You'd think empty parish churches and schools closing and being sold off, as is happening here in America's Catholic heartland, the old ethnic Rust Belt, would reinforce the lesson that "Cool Pope" (John, apocryphally**, and Paul) doesn't work but don't underestimate churchmen's "density" or stubbornness.

Also, again nothing to do with our teaching, as the Anti-Gnostic warns, churchmen including Popes might stay wedded to social democracy (the church as another annoying NGO, like a mainline denomination: defender of religious freedom, not defending THE faith) even as social democracy fails, and they might turn their backs on Europe and the white Christian civilization there (and in North America) that the church created, becoming in effect "the patriarchate of the former Spanish colonies." (Reminds me of the Church of England on us: "the Italian Mission to the Irish Polish".) Of course nobody, including white nationalists, owns the church (à la Nazi "German Christian" Lutheranism; we don't idolize race nor are tribal to the extreme the Orthodox are, as Christianity is both propositional/confessional/universal and tribal) but point taken.

By the way, I understand a couple of things about Pope Francis' "rabbits" remark. One, it's literally true. I've long said the same! The church does NOT teach you to have as many children as physically possible, regardless. (Sidebar: Roissy being conservative, quoting Teddy Roosevelt.) The critics' point: it was wrong for him to play into the liberals' frame, talking as though an anti-Catholic canard were true. Second, this was part of in-flight remarks that were good, even mentioning Lord of the World. Me, like in ages past, the Pope's a distant figure I send Peter's Pence (which he gives to charity) once a year and whose name the priest whispers in the Canon at Mass.

That said, Burke for Pope.

*Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Jude's, Eddystone: "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody." As in folding chairs in the aisles and mantilla'd Delaware County biker chicks and their kids, not just trad stalwarts.

**The real John: Step up teaching and using Latin in the church (a reason the council was conducted in Latin). Don't ordain homosexuals.


  1. Papal elections have tended of late to follow the same sort of rotation as Archbishops of Canterbury, so I would tend to expect another political pope like JP II next.

    Personally, John, it seems to me that the kind of "I've got it all figured out" posts you keep making are not a good idea. It's one thing to stake out a position, though personally I would find a better place to proclaim one's stance than nutters like Roissy. It's another to say that one will not listen to potential critics. And I especially find it problematic when you say you won't listen to your hierarchs. Austrian economics isn't dogma, and the fact that neither it nor the Chicago school have proven capable of pushing rival systems out of the field is pretty good evidence that they are flawed. There's a certain amusement value in watching the MSM try to deal with Francis, whom they understand even less than Benedict, but I don't see how the former's criticism of the elevation of greed can be attacked economically, when economics isn't even the point.

  2. I'd be cautious about Mueller if I were these conservative Cardinals. He had a reputation for being very liberal prior to Francis Pontificate. It only may seem that Mueller is "conservative" when compared to an obvious liberal like Bergoglio. Maybe they should end up going with a more reliable candidate like Scola (No surprises this time)?


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