The search engine of Christ on Earth

June 5, 2017 § 81 Comments

The pope is primarily a sovereign, that is, a flesh and blood man born of ordinary human parents who possesses supreme authority over the Church.  He is the Vicar of Christ: a human representative of Christ who is  – Christ is – absolutely and supremely sovereign.

Human beings really don’t like to serve their masters in general, and they especially don’t like to feel obligated to obey other flesh and blood human beings.  Unlike God human beings are messy, smelly, fleshy, hairy, blood-and-bone animals with limited intellects, voracious appetites, narrow perspectives, egos well out of proportion to their ant-like personal significance in the scheme of things, mountainous lasagna layers of prejudice about matters they don’t understand, and prodigious helpings of vice. Who would want to be actually morally obligated to obey such a creature?

Atheists avoid the problem entirely by anointing themselves supreme intellect, but alas, this option isn’t available to believers. Protestants resolve the issue by appointing themselves Popes of their own personal Churches, projecting their own opinions onto pages of infinitely plastic interpretable text.

And one pervasive way for Catholics to be rid of this terrible and humiliating sense of obligation to obey a smelly beast with an oversized brain is to confound authority with degrees of epistemic certainty. After all, once we acquire knowledge of good and evil won’t we ourselves be like God?

So we are to obey Father because “Father knows best”, not because he is Father. If we knew better than Father our obligation to obey him would disappear. Father doesn’t actually have authority; he just happens to be in an epistemically superior position through accident of history, at least for the time being. Sovereignty is justified by the sovereign’s superior knowledge: by his capacity to infallibly declare doctrine, not by something so humiliating to us as actual possession of real authority.  It is to this transcendent knowledge that we give assent, not to the flesh and blood king. And the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is always there to set us free.

Popes almost never make infallible proclamations of doctrine though. The primary concomitant to the doctrine of infallibility is that almost nothing that a Pope says or does is an expression of epistemic certainty. His power qua Pope resides almost entirely in his real capacity to bind us to obedience in certain matters in the juridical domain of day to day Church rule — whatever we may think of, and whatever may be the objective wisdom or folly in, his decrees.

Institutionally of course there is real content to the Deposit of the Faith, and over the millennia this content has clarified and developed. Individual Popes and Councils have certainly made contributions here and there; though at least one Council is claimed, by the very Popes who called and ratified it, to have been purely pastoral: that is, to have defined no doctrines or dogmas at all.  “Pastoral” refers to the day to day life and actions of the Church as explicitly distinct from defending doctrine, that is, it refers to most of what the Church actually does as an authoritative living hierarchical institution headed by a flesh and blood monarch.

But the accumulated institutional body of knowledge at Ford is distinct from the authority of its CEO. The thing about Daddy is that on the sparse occasions when he actually tells you what to do you’d bloody well better do it, unless you have compelling contrary reasons and are willing to face the consequences of disobedience.

And the thing about individuals and whole societies with Daddy issues is that they usually don’t really want an actual Daddy. What they want is a flesh puppet with Daddy’s knowledge, competence, and authority to use his voice to speak their opinions and make them feel better about themselves.

§ 81 Responses to The search engine of Christ on Earth

  • elspeth says:

    And the thing about individuals and whole societies with Daddy issues is that they usually don’t really want an actual Daddy. What they want is a flesh puppet with Daddy’s knowledge, competence, and authority to use his voice to speak their opinions and make them feel better about themselves.

    Amen.

  • LarryDickson says:

    Let me offer two angles on Zippy’s recent daddy posts, one pro, one con.
    I am a chorister in two choirs, one church, one secular. In neither one do I always believe the director’s approach is right. But it is my job to do my best to fit my voice in his vision. Whether it’s the best work of art is not the point – it will be a better work of art if I (and each other chorister) does what he designs.
    On the other hand . . . Put not your trust in princes. The last two kings to influence our history were Henry VIII and George III, which is not much of a recommendation for kingship. Oh, and the Supreme Court – as in Roe v Wade. And don’t evade by saying they are interpreting the written law – that is a legal fiction, dead for decades. The Supreme Court is true royalty, ruling for life and decreeing at will.

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    The Supreme Court is true royalty, ruling for life and decreeing at will.

    Agreed. There is always a ruling class. The difference in liberal societies is that the ruling class has to rule while pretending not to. So liberal ruling classes are essentially sociopathic.

    Illiberal ruling classes can be sociopathic too, of course: but accidentally so, not essentially so.

  • Mike T says:

    is power qua Pope resides almost entirely in his real capacity to bind us to obedience in certain matters in the juridical domain of day to day Church rule

    I am not familiar with the limits of this, but how far does this apply to Catholic political leaders whose decisions the Pope doesn’t like? For example, suppose the current Pope wanted to force Poland and Hungary to submit to his views on open immigration. To what extent can the Pope actually impose obligations on them? (Assuming their methods are not something obviously evil like mass murdering unarmed civilians instead of turning them away at gun point)

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    To what extent can the Pope actually impose obligations on them?

    The question itself is rather moot. A Pope has the authority to impose excommunication (sacramental deprivation of the individual) and interdict (sacramental deprivation of a community) for heresies of various sorts, but the notion that any modern Pope would actually do so even in the case of clear and obvious heresies on the part of laymen is laughable. (If only!) I suppose he could try, but (in my unconsidered opinion) doing so would far more likely precipitate a crisis he wouldn’t survive than succeed. Liberal popes face the usual paradox of any liberal monarch: that is, how to impose liberalism authoritatively without undermining his own supposed anti-authoritarianism?

    Excommunications, defrocking and the like have been imposed on a very few Catholic clergy in modern times, but of course the Pope is the direct “boss” of clergy in a way in which he is not the direct “boss” of laymen.

    Pope Francis recently “extended faculties” (that is authorized the sacramental practices of) the Society of Saint Pius X, a very reactionary traditionalist group of Catholic breakaways who are highly critical of the widely-perceived-to-be-liberal[*] Council of Vatican II.

    So it is a funny world, and the inside baseball doesn’t always line up very well with outside perceptions.

    ——-

    [*] The differences of opinion in Catholic inside baseball tend to center on whether or not it is a good thing, not whether or not it is the case, with fairly typical left-liberal, right-liberal, trad divisions.

    Left Liberal: Bread of Life and Circuses for everyone, except for white cisnormative bigots!

    Right Liberal: Vatican II expresses a good, authentic kind of liberalism. The big problem is leftist tyrants misinterpreting Vatican II.

    Trad: You people are crazy! Change is for lunatics!

  • Zippy says:

    As far as I am aware, Pope Francis has not promulgated a single actual authoritative command, law, rule, or what have you which has required me personally to do or not do anything at all. At least not that I’ve noticed.

  • Well said, Zippy.

    The other day Trump tweeted about the London attack and CNN tweeted that as of yet the story is unverified and we now await official confirmation. It startled me, because your President IS your official confirmation. What is more official than that?

    The lines of authority all across our culture are being blurred. So I am definitely protestant, but the pope has been chosen for a role, one backed by thousands of years, tradition,human experience and wisdom. Those things alone are a kind of authority, one that common sense should at least cause people to pause and consider before they completely dismiss it.

    Or perhaps it is all just a Divine comedy because far to often the protestant here is forced to argue in favor of the pope’s authority……against Catholics.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    … far too often the protestant here is forced to argue in favor of the pope’s authority……against Catholics.

    I see that too. As we approach the singularity every day becomes opposite day.

    It is really rather fascinating, as long as you have enough endogenous sociopathy to keep the real horror of it all behind the zoo glass.

  • donnie says:

    insanitybytes22,

    … far too often the protestant here is forced to argue in favor of the pope’s authority……against Catholics.

    Well, why not convert?

    If you’re already spending energy helping to shape up the team, you might as well join it 😉

  • One of the last places where it is at least tolerated for a priest to give a direct command to a particular layman is in the confessional, but most people aren’t all that upset about being told to pray 3 Our Fathers for all the various sins they’ve committed. They’re at confession for a reason and understand at some level they need to do something to make up for it and maybe help them be better. But I wonder what the reaction would be to serious penances like having to tell the truth to someone you previously lied to, having to apologize in person to someone who you slandered or otherwise harmed, etc. Most people don’t even know there’s still a canon law requirement to do penance every Friday (not just during lent) or that deacons may have a canon law requirement to remain continent (saw that in one of your comments over at bonald’s).

  • donnie says:

    Put not your trust in princes. The last two kings to influence our history were Henry VIII and George III, which is not much of a recommendation for kingship.

    True enough, but the two most recent popes in our history are the present one and the emeritus one, which is not much of a recommendation for the papacy.

    Either one bends his left knee and kisses the Fisherman’s Ring, or one doesn’t. In the same way, either one doffs his hat to the king, or one doesn’t.

  • CJ says:

    Not entirely OT: Here’s a critique of Moldbug/Neo-reaction with both Zippyan and non-Zippyan features

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448230/problems-mencius-moldbug-neoreaction

  • TomD says:

    The howling over whether Vatican II is doctrinal is a perfect example of the problem; even many good Catholics only want to obey God Himself and no lower authority.

    But a command from the Pope (or your local ordinary), even if it is not doctrinal, is still a binding command.

    As for the inside baseball; excommunications and interdicts still happen (the “shrine” at Necedah being a good example) though rarely.

    Pope Francis has issued quite a few commands to bishops, as is proper, commands that reveal an understanding of authority and law beyond what many want to admit.

    Which is amusing, because if Pope Francis was what the SSPX wanted in a Pope, he’d excommunicate the lot of them immediately.

  • Patrick says:

    No way, if he was what the SSPX wanted in a pope he would give them a personal prelature no questions asked, make the bishops cardinals, and open a case for the beatification of Archbishop St. Lefebvre.

  • Bruce Charlton says:

    @Zippy

    I think the real reason that liberal ruling castes are ‘sociopathic’ is that they are evil – not from a paradox in their concept of authority – a few of the most important leaders are consciously demonic channels for Satan, but most are expedient servants of the demonic agenda. For this to happen there must be an inversion of The Good – and this is what we find.

    Christians have a distinctive view of God’s authority, because personal agency is at the heart of our faith, and one can only be Christian by active choice – therefore we cannot regard God’s authority as implying merely submission.

    Rather, we are invited into a family alliance – children of God with God. So God as Father is the exactly correct metaphor – the key metaphor for Christians, and much better than any philosophical concepts of The Divine.

  • Terry Morris says:

    And the thing about individuals and whole societies with Daddy issues is that they usually don’t really want an actual Daddy. What they want is a flesh puppet with Daddy’s knowledge, competence, and authority to use his voice to speak their opinions and make them feel better about themselves.

    To borrow a line from Sgt. Tumey (Biloxi Blues – swamp crossing scene):

    Damn right. That’s smart. You musta been in the first World War!

    Seriously though, understanding the difference between a guy who is all theory and no substance (and literally just blowing smoke up your hind parts), vs. a guy who speaks from experience and with authority, is not all that difficult for the daddys out there whose knowlege, competence and authority certain individuals of a given persuasion have attempted to utilize to their advantage. But as I’ve advised these types before, “I know what you’re doing, and I don’t like it.”

  • GJ says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Or perhaps it is all just a Divine comedy because far to often the protestant here is forced to argue in favor of the pope’s authority……against Catholics.

    Not at all. A telling B that B should obey B’s king doesn’t imply in any way that A is under B’s king.

  • GJ says:

    To illustrate, I may not encourage anyone to join the military, but once you’re in there’s the obligation to obey military authority until you’re discharged. Same for the Roman church.

  • Zippy says:

    All Christians are subject to the Roman Pontiff, independent of their consent.

  • Todor says:

    Zippy,

    You surely know this, but just to be clear, “all creatures” are subject to the Roman Pontiff.

  • Zippy says:

    Todor:

    Yes, but there are steps, subsidiarities. An analog to “joining the military” in GJ’s comment is “being baptized”.

    And all men should be baptized.

    And all of creation is subject to Man.

    So all of creation is subject to the Roman Pontiff, proximately, as the Vicar of Christ.

    No matter what anyone thinks, and regardless of consent, these moral obligations obtain objectively.

  • Zippy says:

    Bruce Charlton:

    Certainly fallen angels are the tempters of mankind, and many men give themselves over to fallen angels and their lies. But to tempt men away from their moral obligations men must have moral obligations in the first place; and some of those moral obligations are of the sort we call authority. To be subject to authority is to have a genuine moral obligation of obedience in matters over which a given authority exercises dominion.

    This isn’t contrary to the paternal relationship: it is an essential part of what constitutes the paternal relationship. Fathers are not just peers or friends to whom we never have filial obligations.

  • Todor says:

    For my part, I have the tendancy to see the pope as my step-dad. You see, my late father has left me a beautiful letter, full of warnings, advices and insights, but then my new step-dad is telling me that I don’t know how to intrepret this letter correctly, that I should obey him and not what I believe was the will of my late father. Step-daddy issues, I guess.

  • Aurelius Moner says:

    Just as Liberal authority is inherently sociopathic, those grappling with authority these days run the risk of acting as though authority were arbitrary, and should be so obeyed. But in saner times, men understood that authority exists to coordinate the affairs of some society (great or small, from state to family) towards the common good; where prudential judgment may differ, a greater good is maintained by obedience to an authority, with whom one disagrees – but where authority is perverted against its proper end, or is usurped by illegitimate persons, the obligation to disobey, or even to resist, starts to kick in.

    Those who are starting to yield to the arbitrary view of authority, may sometimes agree when they can see the plain lawlessness of an authority or command, but generally disagree where, more commonly, the matter is less clear (to them). If the cardinals informed us that a beloved dog had been elected pope, and started issuing decrees in his name, few would be deceived. But when they say a lifelong, notorious heretic has been elected, and then disastrously erroneous, imprudent, rash and offensive documents and colloquies emerge – a situation which a Catholic properly educated on the relevant points understands to be as impossible as would be the hypothetical pontificate of pope Canine the first – people will more or less equate the handful of people who have the wherewithall to disobey, to Protestants.

    Easy guarantees are hard to come by in this life, especially in these times of total break-down in public life and civilization. Folk who don’t understand that you should sooner fornicate with your sister than allow yourself to deviate in the least point from authoritative teaching (since both are mortal sins, but heresy also incurs automatic loss of membership in the Church), can put up with corrupt ecclesiastical authority as long as it leaves their day-to-day sense of morality, as they understand it, intact. It is telling that the hierarchy and laity stood by while authoritative teaching and discipline were flouted as regards liturgy, priesthood, relihhious life and doctrine, but only ever came close to recognizing the illegitimacy of the post-conciliar usurpers, when they messed with sexy-time stuff (allowing open adulterers to receive communion). Destroying the rites, incorporating mortal sins into Canon Law and contraverting numerous truths of reason (and supreme magisterial authority) as found in the famous “Syllabus,” are far worse than the divorce debate; indeed, the former made the latter possible! The fear that legitimate resistance or rejection of usurpers somehow legitimizes all Protestantism, dissent and lawlessness, is as absurd as saying that the Apostles disobeying the Sanhedrin, or St. John Fisher disobeying Henry VIII, or Robert Grosseteste criticizing and disobeying pope Innocent IV, endorsed such things.

    Because we have jettisoned the criterion of sound judgment – Truth – we conflate all disobedience to purported authorities, in a mirror image of the sociopathy of liberal authority which feels unlimited authority to command unlimited beliefs or acts, so long as it appears only to be protecting people from the intrusion of alien “concepts of existence.” Commands contrary to Faith and morals MUST be disobeyed. Illegitimate authorities MUST be eschewed. If one cannot depose or dispatch illegitimate authorities, one may have to comply – only insofar as this is licit – in order to avoid worse troubles. With the confusion of our age, none of us can spare ourselves the awareness of a moral hazard, which in saner times functioning authorities somewhat ameliorated. To disobey a purported authority is a serious risk. To obey an openly anti-Catholic heretic and destroyer of the Church, is not a stroll down a garden path either. Let us commend ourselves to the mercy of God, and be prepared to do whatever we must. But I also ask folk to think twice before lightly equating principled Catholic disobedience to the Conciliar authorities, with Protestantism. I tell you truly that you are in at least as great a danger, acknowledging a man who praises Luther and calls episcopalian clergy “brother bishops;” perhaps God is far less tolerant of your tolerance, especially given the manifest absurdity (“You’re a Protestant for not acknowledging our attempt to make our rites acceptable to Protestants, and for refusing our dialogue with Protestants and our leaders’ recognition of Protestant heresiarchs as ‘heroes of the faith.'”). How can God save men, after all, from an evil which they not only refuse to denounce and abominate, but to which they willingly submit themselves as subjects, mistaking the nature of authority AND obedience, even when numerous points of Catholic doctrine should give serious pause?

  • Terry Morris says:

    Zippy:

    And all of creation is subject to Man.

    Quite. The command to have dominion over the earth and subdue it is inescapable for man. I’m not quite sure when exactly the fog of liberalism began to dissipate from my mind on this particular point, but at some point it did, and I began to recognize (slowly but assuredly) that in all of man’s attempts (and their name is “legion”) to escape or defy that command, he inescapably obeys and follows it. “Consent” my *ss!

  • 030.     But some will persist and say: there remains, therefore, the duty of the Pontiff – indeed most grave in its kind – of adhering to the means apt for discerning the truth, and, although this matter is not strictly dogmatic, it is, nevertheless, intimately connected with dogma.  For we define:  the dogmatic judgments of the Roman Pontiff are infallible.  Therefore let us also define the form to be used by the Pontiff in such a judgment.  It seems to me that this was the mind of some of the most reverend fathers as they spoke from this podium.  But, most eminent and reverend fathers, this proposal simply cannot be accepted because we are not dealing with something new here.  Already thousands and thousands of dogmatic judgments have gone forth from the Apostolic See; where is the law which prescribed the form to be observed in such judgments?

    https://sites.google.com/site/thetaboriclight/official_relatio

    There has never been an excuse to cause a schism and there is not one now.

    As to all men being subject to the Roman Pontiff, it was the modern Popes who ditched the Triregnum, which symbolizes that reality because dignity of man.

    No, MJY takes that back, they ditched the Triregnum out of fear; fear of being mocked by those who reject the Pope.

    Of course, as the Vicar of Christ, they will be mocked and Jesus endured it well.

    O, and Jesus also let His enemies crown Him King but modern Popes will not let their friends crown them because they are humbler than Jesus.

  • TomD says:

    Theorem:

    Let there be Authority A and Subject S subject to said authority
    Let there be Controvertible Case C
    Let there be two options, C1 and C2, both not immoral
    S argues C1 is better
    C1 is, in truth, better
    A orders C2 to be done
    S must obey and do C2, even though C1 is better
    Doing C1 in defiance to the order is evil

  • Professor Q says:

    I wish more Catholics would read this.

    A lot of what passes for “traditionalism” these days is actually what you would rightly consider “right liberalism”

  • Zippy says:

    Aurelius Moner:

    … people will more or less equate the handful of people who have the wherewithall to disobey, to Protestants.

    What specific commands of Pope Francis have you disobeyed, and why? Precisely what has been required of you personally by a command of Pope Francis that would have compelled you to choose an evil behavior?

  • Zippy says:

    (As I mentioned upthread, I don’t think any actual commands of any of the past three popes have required me personally to do or not do anything at all. Not that I’ve actually noticed, at any rate).

  • Zippy says:

    Todor:

    Step-daddy issues, I guess.

    I think that is a rather profound image actually.

    The Pope is not Christ, he is Christ’s Vicar: not a stepfather exactly, but a temporary (and all too human) foster father or guardian to whom authority has been delegated.

    There are bound to be “daddy issues” within the Church Militant, I suppose. We are overseas in military boarding school, with capricious and flawed headmasters, not living in our Father’s house. “Why the Hell would Daddy send us to this terrible place!?”

    Of course in earlier times we weren’t so Oprahfied and effeminate, so the expression of the alienation inherent to our circumstances probably looked rather different from how it looks now.

  • donnie says:

    As far as I am aware, Pope Francis has not promulgated a single actual authoritative command, law, rule, or what have you which has required me personally to do or not do anything at all. At least not that I’ve noticed.

    Actually I can think of something. As a direct result of the decrees of Pope Francis I do not pray for the souls of Angelo Roncalli, Karol Wojtyła, or Mother Teresa. Instead, I have on multiple occasions asked for their intercession.

    If it were later revealed that Jorge Bergoglio is not and never was actually the pope, and, furthermore, if it were also revealed that one or more of the souls named above are in any place other than Heaven, that would be beyond appalling.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Interesting example; but canonizations are not really commands to pray specifically for the souls or intercession of particular persons. They are more a kind of endorsement or stamp of approval of the practice in specific cases, and even then often come centuries later than the (voluntary) praxis they endorse.

    Canonizations might represent a (rather narrow) counterexample to my claim that infallible proclamations are rare, depending on what one thinks about the infallibility of canonizations; but even as a narrow exception of sorts I don’t think it would really alter the basic thesis of the OP or my comment about the sparsity of actual papal commands (outside of direct Church administration).

  • Mike T says:

    There are bound to be “daddy issues” within the Church Militant, I suppose. We are overseas in military boarding school, with capricious and flawed headmasters, not living in our Father’s house. “Why the Hell would Daddy send us to this terrible place!?”

    I’ve never been to a boarding school, let alone one built on a military culture, but I’m pretty sure that no self-respecting boarding school would ever tolerate the sort of unadulterated garbage the Catholic hierarchy tolerates in the name of “mercy.”

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    I’m pretty sure that no self-respecting boarding school would ever tolerate …

    Yes, the Headmaster is just awful isn’t he?

  • Mike T says:

    Yes, truly awful to impose basic rules of behavior.

    The attitude toward mercy (we didn’t make you feel bad, but unfortunately we let you buy an express ticket to Hell) reminds me of the alt-right joke:

    Sure, you got murdered by third world savages who didn’t even bother trying to hide their hatred of our people, but at least no one could call you racist.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    The important thing is that the Headmaster doesn’t have to be obeyed, doesn’t truly bear Father’s delegated authority, because he is such an incompetent tyrant who empowers bad people and impedes good people. Things would be so much better if Father had just let us run things ourselves.

    In fact I am sure that is what Father would really want, because the Father image in my head always seems to speak my own opinions in Father’s voice.

  • donnie says:

    I’ve never been to a boarding school, let alone one built on a military culture, but I’m pretty sure that no self-respecting boarding school would ever tolerate the sort of unadulterated garbage the Catholic hierarchy tolerates in the name of “mercy.”

    At the risk of revealing too much about myself, when I was a teenager my parents shipped me off to a military school that was staffed partially by ex-Army officers and staffed partially by De La Salle Brothers, a Catholic congregation of male religious brothers who devote their lives to teaching. In my first year the no bullshit, hard-line, former Army Colonel headmaster was ousted by the school’s board (almost all ex-military in some capacity themselves) and replaced him with one of the Lasallian Brothers! What possessed them to do this I never managed to learn, but suffice it to say that this guy could have been Pope Francis’ twin and the school got a lot more lax after that and stayed that way. So if you can’t imagine a self-respecting military school tolerating mountainous layers of unadulterated garbage just like the modern Catholic hierarchy, I’m afraid that is due to a failure of imagination on your part.

  • cyrillist says:

    “Left Liberal: Bread of Life and Circuses for everyone, except for white cisnormative bigots!

    “Right Liberal: Vatican II expresses a good, authentic kind of liberalism. The big problem is leftist tyrants misinterpreting Vatican II.

    “Trad: You people are crazy! Change is for lunatics!”

    This perplexes me a bit, Mr. Zippy. I detect disapproval of all three stances, and I largely agree (although the Trad sounds like a straw man to me) (as it would, since I cheerfully identify as a Trad…).

    If it’s not going too far OT, may I ask for your nutshell stance on the bestest Council of all ever? Because it obviously ain’t any of them. Thanks.

  • Zippy says:

    cyrillist:

    All three are intended as caricatures (kind of), but to be fair my own sympathies lie the most with the trads.

    A council is a council is a council, and the most critical bits of councils are their clearly stated canons and anathemas. So maybe that gives some idea of my own perspective.

    I try to avoid categorizing myself for a bunch of reasons — I’m not against categorization at all, but I don’t really play well with others and figuring out what box of craziness I belong in is best left to others.

  • cyrillist says:

    Appreciated. After taking in those amusing caricatures, I couldn’t help thinking, “Good grief, what’s left?” And trads definitely need to beware of no-change for no-change’s sake.

  • donnie says:

    Interesting example; but canonizations are not really commands to pray specifically for the souls or intercession of particular persons.

    No Catholic is required to privately ask for the intercession of Angelo Roncalli, Karol Wojtyła, or Mother Teresa. But Pope Francis has authoritatively decreed that all three of these individuals are with God in Heaven which means any Catholic (like myself) who was previously praying for the repose of their souls has to stop doing so, because the Pope has decreed that the souls of these three are in fact already in a state of repose.

    Furthermore, any Catholic who attends Mass daily in the ordinary form will, whether they want to or not, assist in asking for the intercession of Angelo Roncalli and Karol Wojtyła on October 11 and 22, respectively (and I think Mother Teresa’s designated day is September 5 but I’m not sure). These days have been designated by Pope Francis as the Feast Days for those canonized souls and all who attend mass on their Feast Days will have no choice but to assist in asking for their intercession.

    If we somehow later learn that Jorge Bergoglio is not actually the Pope and that one or more of those souls are not in Heaven, then either we have a case where Catholics ought to be praying for one or more of these souls as they are suffering in Purgatory or, worse, we have a case where at least once a year the faithful publicly venerate and pray for the intercession of someone who is in Hell.

    So, I’m pretty sure that the only way around this is to admit that, whether we like it or not, Jorge Bergoglio is actually the Pope, that Angelo Roncalli, Karol Wojtyła, and Mother Teresa are among the communion of Saints, and that belief that these three souls are among the Church Triumphant is a true and authoritatively binding belief on all Christians. Otherwise we have some serious problems.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    On the other hand we’ve had antipopes before and probably will again, whatever the state of things now happens to be. We’ve even had an antipope who was later canonized, despite being an antipope.

    I don’t think it can be deductively concluded that any pope who canonizes a saint thereby renders a future anathema against that pope, or even a declaration that he was an antipope, per se impossible as a logical matter.

    The primary failing of someone matching my ‘trad’ caricature is a lack of imagination, your recent comment to Mike T representing a case in point (with you on the ‘more imaginative’ side). “I can’t imagine how this could be the case” is in my experience all too often something which should be taken rather literally. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  • donnie says:

    The primary failing of someone matching my ‘trad’ caricature is a lack of imagination, your recent comment to Mike T representing a case in point (with you on the ‘more imaginative’ side). “I can’t imagine how this could be the case” is in my experience all too often something which should be taken rather literally. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    Touché.

    Relevant:

  • RichardP says:

    The primary failing of someone matching my ‘trad’ caricature is a lack of imagination …

    So – from my imagination, failing or otherwise, a serious question: If Peter was the first Pope, why is the Catholic church (and others) governed so much by writing done by someone who was not a Pope (Paul)? And if the church thought it appropriate to allow a non-Pope’s word to govern their spiritual lives then, how can it be argued that no one other than the Pope can speak infallibly regarding spiritual matters since then (assuming the Church actaully belives that Paul spoke infallibly – that is, God spoke through him)?

    If God did it once, why should we believe he would only do it once? That is, exert influence over the Church through a non-Pope.

    My question: does the Catholic Church heirarchy have writings that address this issue? I will be happy with a yes, no, or I don’t know answer. Don’t need to have anything more than that spelled out here. Not trying to derail the conversation.

  • Mike T says:

    His performance there and in this clip is very similar to the Henry VIII in the series Tudors.

  • donnie says:

    Mike T,

    I see what you’re saying, but Law’s performance is actually much better than the guy who plays Henry VIII in The Tudors when you watch the whole thing. The Young Pope series as a whole is also a much better series than The Tudors, with the caveat that it’s not really a fair comparison. Though there’s plenty of intrigue, scandal, and a few moments of outright blasphemy, the series itself is not really about all of that. It’s a story about a tragic young orphan pope, whose ultimate desire is to lead a Church that aches for God – in the same way the he aches for his parents.

  • There’s an old joke,a theologian and a child both die, get to the pearly gates and meet God. The theologian hesitates and goes,”Wow, you’re nothing like I imagined you to be….” But the kid just runs into His arms squeeling, “Daddy!”

    These conversations often remind me of that joke. It’s part of the reason why we are to come unto Him with a child-like faith. As adults we’re relying on rules, fearing all the things that can go wrong with authority, speaking of the middle ages, the Pope, military schools. We not only have daddy issues, we have major trust issues,too. So what I find useful when it comes to grasping concepts around authority is to just, “lean not into your own understanding.” Kids don’t ask why daddy is daddy, they don’t question whether he knows what he is doing,they don’t fear a million imaginary scenarios where he gets it all wrong. Daddy is daddy and it is good.

  • DismalFarmer says:

    @donnie

    I can’t think why we would not be able to pray for the souls of the saints. Prayer isn’t something that relies on utility for its efficacy. The most common formal prayer among Catholics tells our Holy Mother that she is full of grace and that the Lord is with her, facts which the Queen of Heaven presumably knows already and does not need reminding of…

    I’m reasonably certain that if you pray for the soul of JP2 he’s going to get a good chuckle out of it and not be too cross with you.

  • DismalFarmer says:

    @RichardP

    Yes.

    Also, you misconstrue “government”. The Church is not “governed” by the writings of St. Paul. It is governed by Christ, who sent the Holy Spirit from the Father, to Peter and the Apostles, from whom the Pope and the Bishops receive their offices.

    It is INFORMED by the writings of St. Paul.

    When you begin with the assumption that the Church is GOVERNED by WRITING and not by a PERSON you are already wrong.

    The Church does not “believe” that St. Paul taught infallibly. The Church DECLARES that St. Paul taught infallibly. The letters of Paul are included in the canon of the Bible at the order of the Magisterium of the Church. It is the Church which validates Paul, not the other way around.

  • DismalFarmer says:

    @donnie

    I hope I can trust that I am not scandalizing anyone reading this lovely and rather esoteric blog when I say that based on your arguments it is perfectly valid for a Catholic to believe Benedict XVI is Pope and Bergoglio/Francis has been delegated certain administrative powers. In this logic St Teresa of Calcutta is still a saint because being declared so by Pope Francis, but Pope Francis isn’t actually Pope because he was working on behalf of Benedict.

    Really it really honestly and truly does not matter. Who the Pope is and what the Pope says really ought to have almost no effect on the average Catholic layperson. Nobody ought to read Pope Francis’ poorly-ghostwritten, logically inconsistent and nonsensical exhortations unless their job requires them to do so. If you need to know something your Bishop or your parish priest will tell you.

    The only thing that really matters is that there is a Pope, you are not he, and he really does have Authority. This means that you do not have authority. Accepting your lack of authority is really the whole point, and possibly the point of this post.

  • Dan Daly says:

    LarryDickson: What was so horrible about George III?

  • Wood says:

    “Really it really honestly and truly does not matter. Who the Pope is and what the Pope says really ought to have almost no effect on the average Catholic layperson”

    Really it doesn’t matter who your dad is. Just know you have a dad, and he’s sleeping with your mom. I’m partly joking, but your quote above may sound OK and all – as long as everyone’s playing nice. When people stop playing nice – when people start disagreeing – that’s when people start hacked to pieces.

  • “When people stop playing nice – when people start disagreeing – ”

    In a foundational sense,as far as structure goes, accepting lines of authority is really important, because that is what everything else in the structure builds upon. Your dad could be a alcoholic street bum, but he is still your dad. Honor your mother and father still applies. Part of that is because revoking or denying his connection to you is going to be untruthful and ultimately harmful to you.

    Zippy said, “what the Pope says really ought to have almost no effect on the average Catholic layperson.” A big part of that is because the average Catholic layperson is already supposed to be walking in faith and having some clue about right and wrong. So unless a pope comes along and suddenly mandates that people bite the heads off of rats of something, a pope’s authority is not going to effect you.

  • Wood says:

    “So unless a pope comes along and suddenly mandates that people bite the heads off of rats of something, a pope’s authority is not going to effect you.”

    That’s fair in a general way I suppose, and generalizing the pope’s authority to mean the same as the pope’s actions is something I often do as well. But I do think there can a very important difference between “what the Pope *says* has little effect on you” and “(unless the pope positively requires you to do something right here and right now) the pope’s *authority* is not going to effect you.”

  • That’s a fair point, Wood. The pope has an impact,he has an effect, he does not exist in a vacuum. I was thinking in a more literal sense, as in 95% of our fears about the harm
    authority does are just made up scenarios in our head that haven’t happened.

  • Terry Morris says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Your dad could be a alcoholic street bum, but he is still your dad. Honor your mother and father still applies.

    Quite. I can’t tell you how many times in the relatively recent past I have felt compelled to point out (to Christians!) that the command is given *without qualification*. And furthermore, would that in the majority of cases the fathers in question had committed a sin half as egregious as being a drunken street bum. But no; in the vast majority of cases when I have felt thusly compelled, the justification for disobedience and disrespect of a father is his his acting the part and exercising his authority. I even had a similar problem with one of my daughters a few years back. It took her two years to come back to her senses, but I simply stood firm the entire two years. Wasn’t easy, but it had to be done *for her greater good and that of the entire family*.

  • Zippy says:

    insanitybytes22:

    Zippy said, “what the Pope says really ought to …”

    The cite is from the commenter DismalFarmer.

  • Mike T says:

    I was thinking in a more literal sense, as in 95% of our fears about the harm
    authority does are just made up scenarios in our head that haven’t happened.

    I would take it a step further. 95% of the harm that authority has done in modern times, which is the temporal focus of most real fears of authority, have happened because of the sociopathic nature of authority under liberalism. Several years ago, I started pointing out to people that the kings of old would get brutally murdered by their own nobles or a peasant mob for doing even 1/4 of what democratic governments get away with because of the propaganda “the people are the government.” Zippy’s posts on liberalism made it clear why that instinct was almost certainly correct.

  • TomD says:

    Here’s a fun meditation on the 4th Commandment; Mary’s fiat continued (and continues) – Christ obeyed His Mother; I suspect she also consented to the Crucifixion.

  • tz says:

    Can a Pope resign the office?

  • RichardP says:

    @DismalFarmer

    Thank you for your response.

    I believe I used the term “governed” in a different manner than you. Even as God’s chosen people were “governed” by the word given by God to Moses – that Moses wrote down and distributed to the twelve tribes as “the law”, so also is the Church “governed” by the written word (that is the only way we have of knowing what someone said; see all the Papal writings that “govern” the Church referenced by Zippy here over time). I was making no claim as to the source of the written word, other than this statement in my post which you perhaps missed: “assuming the Church actually belives that Paul spoke infallibly – that is, God spoke through him”. And, indeed, Paul’s words (both his and those from God delivered through Paul) did govern the early Church that followed Paul. It was intended that those words would govern. That is, they prescribed behavior. Elsewise, why would they be spoken / written down? (rhetorical)

    A literal reading of your response to me says that the authorities of the Catholic Church believe that Paul spoke infallibly – that is, they believe that God spoke through him – elsewise they would not have been able to decree that he spoke infallibly. Which is an important point but it really has little to do with my main question about whether the Catholic Church has writings on the issue of whether God speaks to us through someone who is not the Pope. You answered that question and, again, thank you.

    I’m still left wondering why, if Peter was the Pope, that God chose to speak so much of the New Testament through Paul (a non-Pope) rather than through Peter (the Pope), and why that was OK then, but is not OK now. (my musings, not a request for an answer) That wonderment is based on the reality that the folks who followed Paul (in person and later) managed their behaviors based on what he spoke / wrote in his letters – even though he was not the Pope. Those folks didn’t seem to need the Pope to say Paul’s writings were OK to be acted on (and in fact, the Pope disagreed with some of what Paul wrote / spoke about). If acting on the writings of a non-Pope was OK then, what changed to make it not OK now? (rhetorical)

    tldr: The fact that so much of the New Testament is comprised of the words of a non-Pope proves the point that God speaks to us though folks other than the Pope. How could the folks who followed Paul through his life and after his death have known that it was OK to let his words prescribe their behavior without being told by the Pope that it was OK (remembering that the then-Pope disagreed with some of what Paul said / wrote)? I think we have a hint in Romans 8:1 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God …” It seems that transaction happens outside of the authority of the Pope.

    (I’m genuinely interested in the issues I’ve raised in this post and the one above. I offer them as examples of imaginative questions (although I understand others may not think they are so). My intent is not to qustion the legitimacy of the Catholic Church or bash the office of the Pope.)

  • RichardP says:

    Forgot to include this, as it is what triggered my imagination:

    Zippy’s opening: “The pope is primarily a sovereign … He is the Vicar of Christ: a human representative of Christ who is – Christ is – absolutely and supremely sovereign.”

    Christ may be absolutely sovereign. But is it correct to believe that the Pope is – given that a non-Pope (Paul) wrote so much of what governs the life of the Body of Christ?

    DismalFarmer questioned my concept of “governed”. My question is, does any Pope dare issue any proclamation that flat out contradicts anything Paul said in the New Testatment? If not, why not – other than that Paul’s words (whether his own or God speaking through him) – the words of a non-Pope – govern the New Testament church.

  • GJ says:

    TomD:

    Here’s a fun meditation on the 4th Commandment; Mary’s fiat continued (and continues) – Christ obeyed His Mother; I suspect she also consented to the Crucifixion.

    That kind of bad fanfiction is unnecessary. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”; it’s clear who has the supreme claim on obedience.

  • Wood says:

    If this double posts its because I’m an idiot –

    RichardP,

    Against my better judgment:
    Catholics believe that the good news of Christ – the salvation of men – and what is necessary for man to be saved was divinely revealed by God. This divine Revelation is the word of God, and this word of God is contained in writings (Sacred Scripture) and in unwritten Tradition. This divine Revelation is often called among Catholics the “deposit of Faith.”

    We believe this divine Revelation included both the Old Testament prophets and the inspired authors of the New Testament of Sacred Scripture. To be sure, “non-pope” St. Paul at times spoke infallibly (one possible source of unwritten Tradition) and wrote without error (his letters in Sacred Scripture) as he was inspired to reveal the word of God to us all. However, the Church teaches that the time of this general Revelation – when God was revealing his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ by inspiring humans whether pope or non-pope – ceased with the death of the last apostle. So, yes a non-pope during the time of general Revelation was inspired by God to reveal His plan of salvation. Why did “so much” New Testament come through a non-pope? Why did God inspire St. Paul and not exclusively Pope St. Peter? Got no clue but a lot of fun speculations (how likely folks would be to believe one single person’s writings as inerrant; to show us so many different perspectives on the Faith and our Lord; can you imagine Peter having the patience to write the Apocalypse? : ) So, why can’t there be another non-pope St. Paul in the current time infallibly revealing the Word of God? Because the time of general Revelation has ceased. When the current pope speaks infallibly he is NOT revealing “new” Revelation; he is clarifying the previously revealed deposit of Faith that ended with the death of the apostles.

    It seems fitting both because of the nature of man and the fact that this earth has continued for millennia following the Incarnation that Revelation would be written down to pass on to future generations. And although Catholics reject sola scriptura, Catholicism is not a pagan religion of oracles, where the pope-as-oracle continuously and forever is the direct channel of the Word of God.

    You might also ask yourself, given your own commitments, why “another non-pope” won’t come along and infallibly proclaim the Word of God.

    This is against my better judgment because I think you are needling towards a debate on sola scriptura which is off topic from the OP.

  • Zippy says:

    I would add to Wood’s comments that even in the present age there can be what the Church calls “private revelations”, some of which become “approved”. Fatima and Lourdes are examples which can be googled. No Catholic is required to believe in any specific private revelation or miracle — belief in these things is optional in a way that professing the Creed is not, since the time of “public revelation” ended with the death of the last Apostle. But even “Pope alone” is actually a rather Protestant approach to spiritual and theological knowledge.

  • Zippy says:

    tl;dr:

    “Supreme authority” doesn’t mean “only authority”, either epistemically or in terms of capacity to command obedience.

  • Hrodgar says:

    For my own part, I suspect the main reason Paul’s letters make up the bulk of the New Testament is simply because he wrote so many. He was by all accounts unusually energetic and prolific, and I rather doubt any of the Twelve matched his output.

  • The Apostle Paul is a good example of how our issues with authority can totally convolute everything. The things he writes are really quite beautiful, wise words,and yet half the people will be whacking you over the head with them, as if his words are prescriptive and authoritarian, like commandments,while the other half are are rejecting him out right,claiming he’s been mistranslated or taken out context. We could call these extremes the far right and the far left. Ironically what both groups have in common is a very negative perception of authority.

  • Terry Morris says:

    If Christ’s own words and actions as recorded in the N.T. were all non-authoritative, non-offensive and nicey nice, I might myself become a “liberal Christian.” And since one’s politics is generally informed by one’s religion, this would probably mean I would be a fully committed liberal in my political beliefs as well. And yet …

  • Rhetocrates says:

    This is something I’ve been struggling with for years, and my move into NRx has (slowly) helped, I think.

    The proper action to take as a subject, when your sovereign gets something ‘wrong’, is usually to pray for him and for yourself, for him to be corrected by God, and/or for you to persist in obedience and come to accept the wisdom of your sovereign. (Obviously which and how much depends on exactly what’s going on.)

    I don’t want to position myself as some kind of saint on this issue. I struggle with this all the time. Especially with this Pope it’s really easy to adopt in my heart the “Not My Pope!” mindset. But even if (God forbid) he be revealed as truly an anti-Pope, he still needs our prayers.

  • TomD says:

    If anyone’s interested in the Pope doing something explicitly authoritarian, see this excercise of authority.

  • Canon Lawyer, Doctor of Thomistic Theology on obedience to Papal teaching:

    @TomD:Which is amusing, because if Pope Francis was what the SSPX wanted in a Pope, he’d excommunicate the lot of them immediately.

    What nonsense. The whole point of the Brotherhood is to be a vessel in the time of crisis (which is now) until the apostasy at the top is resolved, to hold the Faith, Tradition left by the Apostles and the true Roman Mass codified forever by Trent.

    Just like you can’t run a diesel engine on 80% diesel and 20% water so the Church can’t run on anything other than pure Truth, it has to be 100%.

    What doesn’t change is important, everything else is contingent. If something can change on the whim of neotheologians then it’s not truly important anyway.

    @ZC: “Pastoral” refers to the day to day life and actions of the Church as explicitly distinct from defending doctrine.
    What the Church does is what the Church believes. “Pastoral” doesn’t mean, “divorced from doctrine”.
    And a Council, in order to be a Council must define doctrine/condemn heresy. V2 did not do that. Instead it’s a revolutionary nuclear bomb and the so called ‘New Advent’ is the nuclear fallout.

    The Third Message of Fatima deals specifically with apostasy from the top (Communism). Heaven did no leave us abandoned, we still have the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The resolution of the crisis is tied to the Consecration of Russia which would de facto mean a condemnation of religious liberty by the Pope and the Bishops.

  • Zippy says:

    Ritter derImmaculata:

    … the true Roman Mass codified forever by Trent

    Liturgy isn’t really the kind of thing which can be completely specified (‘codified forever’) in a text. That basic metaphysical observation isn’t an apologia for the Mass of Paul VI in particular though.

    “Pastoral” doesn’t mean, “divorced from doctrine”.

    The statement itself seems malformed to me. Pastoral practice and doctrine aren’t even the same kind of thing. Certainly they are not ‘divorced’ any more than mathematics is divorced from farming; but they aren’t abstract isomorphisms either.

    There is no question that the Church has — since well before Vatican II — made it a pastoral practice to absolve certain unrepentant mortal sinners (thereby “admitting” them to Holy Communion) as an authoritative instruction to confessors. See this recent post, and follow the links in it.

    It has been authoritative ‘pastoral’ practice since the 1830’s — since before Vatican I, let alone Vatican II — for confessors to absolve unrepentant usurers without pressing the matter. So while I agree that pastoral practice and doctrine cannot be ‘divorced’ (whatever that might mean), some of the notions that some modern Catholics who label themselves traditionalists have about the whole situation probably need to be rethought.

  • TomD says:

    The SSPX (modernists in fiddlebacks) can’t even exist outside of a liberal mindset, where authority is determined by the individual’s will. Obedience binds even if the authority isn’t doing what you would do in that position; that’s the whole point.

    Satan doesn’t care why someone disobeys the Pope and rejects his authority, only that they do.

  • Zippy says:

    I don’t think I’m qualified to say much about the SSPX in particular. My impression is that the situation is rather complicated, like the relationship of a messy royal family with its cranky uncle.

    But the generic notion of breaking away from the Pope to preserve the Christianity of Trent doesn’t strike me as all that different from the notion of breaking away from the Pope to preserve the Christianity of [insert some other era].

  • […] One of the things that struck me when I bought my first copy of Denzinger was how small it is, as a collection of the explicit authoritative communal beliefs of a millennia old institution with a global footprint: as the collected actual resolutions drawn from two thousand years of disputation and controversy.   No one can hold the dimunitive single volume in his hands, and then witness the glory of medieval cathedrals and universities, without concluding that the production of true propositions on paper is not the primary activity of the Church. […]

  • Boxer says:

    Reblogged this on v5k2c2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading The search engine of Christ on Earth at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: