Could the Criticism Have Merit?

“Habemus Papam.”

Ever since those words were spoken by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran on March 13th, the media has been abuzz with stories and prognostications about the new Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the possible shape and impact of his nascent pontificate.

Before offering my own contribution to the conversation, it may be helpful to establish the guiding principles that inform my approach to the topic:

1. Some Catholics are optimistic about the immediate future of the Church, while others see cause for concern. In charity, one would do well to assume goodwill on the part of all concerned (i.e., they love the Church, are praying for Pope Francis, are open to his teaching, etc.) until proven otherwise.

2. Those who are respectfully expressing their concern are not by that simple fact guilty of “pope bashing.” As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith” (ST, IIa-IIae, Q. 33, A. 4).

3. Those who fail to see “imminent danger” where others do, and vice versa, should not hesitate to make their case leaving straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks aside.

4. Being newly enthroned, it will take time for Pope Francis to establish and communicate his vision for his pontificate.

5. That said, the former Cardinal Bergoglio was consecrated a bishop more than two decades ago and has long since developed an episcopal identity that remains, in a certain sense, his own. As such, the suggestion that one must limit all observation of his papacy to the strictly positive for some undefined period of time (in the name of “giving him a chance”) is not entirely reasonable.

6. Our faith, hope and charity is ultimately founded in Jesus Christ, Redeemer and King. The papacy, the liturgy, our doctrine, our discipline and our venerable traditions are in the first place intended to give honor and glory to Him while also nurturing and developing the theological virtues in the faithful.

With this limited amount of perspective established, let me say first and foremost that I find Pope Francis’ affection for the flock moving, his spontaneous reflections compelling, and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary encouraging.

shutterstock_121815373 2Even so, I also count myself among those who are concerned about the direction in which the Barque of St. Peter may soon be steered on Pope Francis’ watch, in the first place, liturgically.

I would begin by reminding those who might argue that the most pressing needs in the Church lie elsewhere that the sacred liturgy is “the summit toward which all of the Church’s activity is directed; the font from which all of her power flows” (SC 10). Therefore, if the liturgical life of the Church is in some measure wanting, everything else – her outreach to the poor, her attempts to evangelize, her internal governance, all of it – will suffer deficiency as well.

As many others have observed, it already appears obvious that Pope Francis favors what one might call liturgical minimalism, and in this I cannot help but discern the seeds of a division recently well described by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf who said, “I am thinking about the growing juxtaposition in some conversations of simple liturgy versus lofty liturgy.”

Cardinal Roger Mahony is among those parties engaged in such conversations. In fact, he is being widely criticized for sending out the following Tweets over the last several days:

“SIMPLE is IN, extravagant is out!! Pope Francis is doing more for proclaiming Jesus Christ than thousands of ‘professionals’–praise God!”

“So long, Papal ermine and fancy lace! Welcome, simple cassock, and hopefully, ordinary black shoes! St. Francis must be overjoyed!!”

“Mass with Pope Francis: moving from HIGH Church to LOW and humble Church! What a blessing that we are encountering Jesus without trappings!”

While I concur with those who find his thinly veiled criticism of Pope Benedict reprehensible, relatively few commentators, it seems, are prepared to acknowledge that Cardinal Mahony’s observations are in some measure accurate:

Simple does appear to be supplanting what progressives consider “extravagant;” ermine trimmed mozzette and lace surplices do seem to have fallen out of favor (at least as of this writing), and there is ample evidence that the Papal Mass is deliberately being shifted from high to low.

This being the case, it’s not difficult to imagine why progressives may already be feeling justified in the opinion that the liturgical regalia of tradition is at best mere window dressing, or at worse, an obstacle to Divine union.

In truth, however, the liturgical treasure of the Church – the venerable ritual actions, the sacred music, the ornate vestments and the vast assortment of liturgical finery befitting the service of Christ the King – has never been the property of Benedict XVI or any other pope. This treasury properly belongs to the Bride of the Redeemer who makes use of them in order to honor and glorify her Spouse, and as such, it is the rightful inheritance and heritage of those who belong to Him.

These aforementioned sacred signs also serve to call out to those who as yet do not know the Sovereign Lord, compelling them to embrace His sweet and saving yoke and to join us in offering worship to the Divine Majesty through, with and in Him and His Holy Catholic Church. They are, in others words, among our most effective tools for the work of evangelization.

The same is true of the strictly papal regalia of tradition like the triregnum (triple tiara), the sedia gestatoria (portable throne upon which the popes have been carried) and the labella (the large ceremonial fans made of white ostrich-feathers), just to name a few.

The best intentions of those recent popes who have presumed to dispose of these precious gifts do nothing to mitigate the nature of their offense. While one may wish to see a Church that is arguably more accessible to the common man, no one, not even a pope, has the right to render the Church impoverished.

As Fr. Z wrote of Pope Benedict’s attempts to correct past injustices of this kind, even the smallest of things matter a great deal.

“The use of the fanon is, itself, a small gesture. The return to use of the ferula was a small gesture. The use of older forms of vestments was a small gesture. The white mozzetta during Easter season, a small gesture. Small gestures matter. They pave the way for larger gestures,” he said.

I believe that the same principal applies today; i.e., the relatively small gestures that we’ve seen from Pope Francis thus far will inevitably invite larger ones in a similar vein.

Cardinal Mahony apparently believes this as well, and he is overjoyed at the prospect.

So too is Rev. Mr. Eric Stoltz, the openly gay deacon he ordained back in 2004, the very same year that the now disgraced Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles released the infamous “Report to the People of God” in which he attempted to explain away his failure to protect the flock from clerical homosexual predators.

Writing on his FaceBook page on March 17th, Deacon Stoltz opined:

Folks, something is happening. When I said this line in my homily tonight:

“Before he stepped out on the balcony, Francis was offered the red ermine cape and refused to wear it.’No thank you, monsignor,’ he said. ‘Carnival time is over.’”

The assembly broke into loud, spontaneous applause … The longing for throwing off the archaic pretensions of the papacy and the longing for simplicity by Peter’s successor is strong, and people are letting it all come out now and let themselves hope. It’s amazing to witness.

I would bet dollars to donuts that this “carnival time” quote is entirely bogus, but the sentiments expressed in this post are real nonetheless, as are those clapping liturgical lunatics who despise tradition and can barely contain themselves in giddy anticipation of what this papacy might hold for the future of their cause.

Is their excitement justified? Only time will tell, but one thing is all but certain; every indication that this Holy Father has a distaste for the majestic outward signs of liturgical and papal tradition will be interpreted by many, not only as a repudiation of Pope Benedict’s restoration, but as justification for God only knows what they may have in mind going forward.

The realization that it is far easier to destroy than to build only serves to underscore the gravity of the situation. Case in point, the pontificate of Pope Paul VI, who in the course of just a few short years, presided over the unprecedented destruction of many centuries of venerable tradition, ushering in a period of liturgical devastation for which every generation ever since continues to pay dearly.

The lesson is clear: it may take but comparatively very little in the way of encouragement from Rome, intentional or otherwise, to set in motion a speedy unraveling of at least some of the hard earned gains realized over the last seven years.

As if all of this were not foreboding enough, that which took place during the Holy Father’s gathering with journalists in Paul VI Hall on March 16th can hardly be considered anything other than a harbinger of darkness. The relevant details were described by Dr. Robert Moynihan as follows:

The moment had come for him to impart to all of us his Apostolic Blessing, but he did not do this in the usual way.

In fact, he made no exterior gesture at all. He did not lift his hand, he did not move it in the form of a blessing, and he did not speak “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” out loud.

He said, in Italian: “I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.” And then, in Spanish, he explained as follows: “I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each, but in the knowledge that each of you is a child of God. May God bless you!”

And with that, he turned and left.

The anguish that this breathtaking episode engenders in the faithful Catholic defies description, and yet, I have discovered that many among us have grown so numb to such unthinkable acts of disregard for Our Blessed Lord that the mere retelling of this event is often treated as little more than an invitation to shoot the messenger.

For those unaware of just how much is at stake in the words and gestures in question, I would simply point to the Angelus address of September 11, 2005, wherein Pope Benedict XVI said:

The sign of the Cross is the fundamental act of our prayer, of Christian prayer.

Making the sign of the Cross – as we will do during the Blessing – means saying a visible and public “yes” to the One who died and rose for us, to God who in the humility and weakness of his love is the Almighty, stronger than all the power and intelligence of the world.

No one knows with precision what the immediate future holds for the Church under this fledgling pontificate, but a faithful Catholic can scarcely deny that when the Vicar of Christ is reluctant to make the Sign of the Cross and to invoke the Blessed Trinity in an act of public blessing, there is no motive lofty enough to render it anything other than what it is; “an imminent danger for the Faith” that demands repudiation in defense of “the One who died and rose for us.”

If nothing else, perhaps the optimistic, the concerned, and the content to “wait and see” can agree on at least this much:

All of us must fast and pray on the Holy Father’s behalf, just as he requested on the day he was elected, “that the Lord bless him and Our Lady protect him.”

Louie Verrecchio

By

Louie Verrecchio is a Catholic speaker and the author of Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II; an internationally acclaimed adult faith formation tool, endorsed by George Cardinal Pell, that explores the documents of the Second Vatican Council. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com. You can follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/louie.verrecchio.

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  • Victoria

    While it would have been appropriate for the Holy Father to have given his blessing to the assembled journalists, calling it a “harbinger of darkness” is somewhat extreme. Has Francis been in the habit of not giving a blessing and the sign of the cross to his people? That would be more telling.
    Failure to make use of the triple tiara, the portable throne, and the white ostrich feather fan do not detract from the dignity of the church. We preach Christ crucified, He who was laid in a manger and had nowhere to lay His head.
    You know, it occurred to me that St Peter would never have qualified for pope. He didn’t meet the qualifications in education, deportment, oratory or intellect. Let’s wait to see what the Holy Spirit is up to. And meanwhile support our Holy Father with prayer in charity.

  • Dave P.

    I wonder how much controversy St. Pius V generated when he exchanged red robes for his Dominican white…customs change, for better or for worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    I know we may disagree about certain things…I find Card. Mahoney’s glee childish. However, ornate vesments and costly rings and crosses are not essential to the celebration of the Mass. I love the sacred music but I also love the simplicity of Gregorian Chant sung by Benedictines in an Abbey – when I looked at all those golden miters during the Mass for the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, I felt they looked silly…like from a movie and the Cardinals themselves looked uncomfortable. I’m not saying we should do away with all the ‘trappings’ – perhaps in medieval times it was necessary for the ‘princes’ of the Church to show they could be as ‘splendid’ as the princes of the State but I don’t think that’s necessary any longer. I do believe Priests should wear their cassocks and female Religious their habits because it witnesses to who they are and draws people to them but as for the ornate vestments and jewelry – not essential. However, this is just my opinion. I do think Pope Francis should live in the Papal apartments because he would be at the center of things there – but I also think it should be made more ‘homey’ – with comfortable furniture…right now, it looks so ornate and uncomfortable, so formal, that I would understand if Pope Francis would prefer to live in a simpler dwelling…let him put the current furniture in storage and pick out what would be more suitable for him…it will be his home for many years to come.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    And let’s not forget that Jesus chose ordinary, uneducated men as His Apostles and sent them forth in His Name – and they, by grace, transformed the face of the earth and of all mankind forever. The important thing is to be in union with God’s will…to be and to do what He wants and I believe Pope Francis will do that. Let’s pray much for him…and for his meeting with Benedict XVI which will take place on Saturday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    If I understood him correctly, Pope Francis called out those who spent so much on pets and cosmetics while hundreds of thousands of children go to bed hungry every night…the material ‘treasures’ of the Church are not essential to the faith or to the celebration of the Mass…I believe music is essential – sacred music. But tiaras and ermine and gold and silver rings and crosses…Jesus died poor on a wooden Cross…Francis of Assisi is, in my opinion, the most perfect imitation of Christ of all the saints…no one is asking the Church to strip down as radically as Francis asked his followers to do, but there should be a sifting of externals…what is essential to worship and what is not…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Sundberg/100000503691206 Sam Sundberg

    I don’t think we need worry about Card. Mahoney or his gay followers who will mock the Church no matter what; and I do not believe we should ‘impoverish’ the Church…she has hungry mouths to feed throughout the world … I love the splendor of the Church but toning down a bit on some exteriors will not harm the Church which is the Bride of Christ…

  • http://profiles.google.com/liamronan49 Liam Ronan

    A well written, well balanced cautionary opinion, Louie. Queen of the Holy Rosary pray for us.

  • schmenz

    With all due respect, Mr Sundberg, you sound like the writer who wrote the screenplay to that dreadful 1968 film “The Shoes of the Fisherman”. The sentiments expressed echo that movie almost perfectly.

    There are reasons, my friend – good,long-established reasons – why this “minimalism” is not a constructive attitude for the Church to have, especially when this minimalism is ostentatiously heralded on a daily basis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drmiller63 Daniel R. Miller

    I find the Pope’s simplicity refreshing. It is time for some of the Renaissance trappings of power to go; they are a distraction. They are not necessary for faith, hope, charity or Sacrament. In this, I have disrespect for Pope Benedict. He was, and is, an intellectual giant whose well-crafted writings will influence our Church forever. Yet he was just on side of a multi-faceted diamond. In my travels, I have visited and prayed in a multitude of churches that were beautiful, from the ueber-ornate rococo, to minimalist modern. The most beautiful were those who used the available materials well to enhance worship. The least beautiful were those whose original vision was obliterated by someone else’s contrary view of what is sacred. Yet all were sacred, not because of my, or anyone else’s view of beauty, but because they were where the Church gathered for worship. The Church can meet in a barn and still be Church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.johnson.14268 Kristen Johnson

    I once heard an astute (if snarky) remark to
    the effect that “conservatives believe the heart of the Constitution
    resides in the Second Amendment, while liberals believe that the heart
    of the Constitution resides in Roe v. Wade”; I am reminded of this by the laughably out-of-all-proportion remarks like:

    “The best intentions of those recent popes who have presumed to dispose
    of these precious gifts do
    nothing to mitigate the nature of their offense. While one may wish to
    see a Church that is arguably more accessible to the common man, no one,
    not even a pope, has the right to render the Church impoverished.”

    and

    “The anguish that this breathtaking episode engenders in the faithful Catholic defies description, and yet, I
    have discovered that many among us have grown so numb to such
    unthinkable acts of disregard for Our Blessed Lord that the mere
    retelling of this event is often treated as little more than an
    invitation to shoot the messenger.”

    I can take fancy papal
    vestments or simple episcopal vestments, I can take the Sign of the
    Cross or a simple “God bless you,” but what I cannot take is Catholics
    caterwauling like Chicken Little over a holy shepherd whose tastes and
    prudential judgment simply differ from their own (“Horrors!” to quote
    the disgusting and unapologetic anti-papal Rorate Caeli site), but whose
    theology and charity seem rock-solid and worthy of emulation.

    It amazes me that any of us, struggling even to cultivate our little
    square foot of the vineyard, has the audacity to crack-open a papal
    history text, sit behind the computer, and easy-peasy tell the Pope how
    he should oversee the vast vineyard — and that all it takes is a puff
    of incense here and a verse of Latin there to right the wrongs! There’s a
    place for all these deeply-meaningful little “t” traditions, but it is
    demonstrably silly and highly inappropriate to spew forth everywhere
    about how awful Pope Francis is because he — with one week of
    experience! — doesn’t wear this and doesn’t chant that like his
    predecessors did; our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict did all these
    things and so much more, yet there is more work to be done. Let’s watch
    what Pope Francis’ husbandry will do for God’s Vineyard and not presume
    to virtually plop the papal tiara on our own heads or, as one blogger
    recently put-it, : “don’t you dare ‘give Pope Francis a chance’!”

  • Apostolus

    ” calling it a “harbinger of darkness” is somewhat extreme”

    Yep.

  • greenlight

    I read this sentiment on a comment thread somewhere else: What if your son had an audience with the Pope and showed up in flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt? Not because that was all he had to his name but as gesture of focusing on “what really matters”. What if a bride presented herself at her wedding in the simplest, plainest dress she could find? Again, not because that was the best she could afford, she already had a magnificent wedding gown which she specifically rejected because she wished to “do away with the trappings” of the ceremony.

    Should we applaud their brave and noble simplicity? Remember, in my examples they haven’t dressed as well as they can, they have specifically eschewed the beauty that was available to them for what they believe to be a noble purpose. I’m hearing lots of cheering for the new Pope’s choices and all of us who would disagree with their position should push back charitably but firmly and express our preference for the rich tradition that belongs to us.

    Imagine if the next Pope is someone like Cardinal Burke (who by most accounts would embrace these lost ‘trappings’). What would the reaction be? How will he be received? If Pope Francis’ choices are as we fear, we should start prepping the battlefield now.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I just hope I don’t wake up one day to the news that he snuck out on his guards to give sandwiches to the homeless and was shot.

  • James Stagg

    Dear Schmenz,
    Your concerns are noted, as are those of Mr. Verrecchio; Now, calm down, take a deep breath, and say to yourself…..are red shoes really necessary to the celebration of valid and beautiful Liturgy? You already know the answer to that. Were it done in Army fatigues and muddy boots on the hood of a jeep, this is……still……the most beautiful liturgy in the world.,,,,still the confection of the Body and Blood of the Savior for us to consume…..in whatever reverence (and dress) that we might provide.

    The comments of Mahoney and other blabbermouths are so much “blowin’ in the wind”, so to speak. Big deal! Throw them away with the immediate attacks on Pope Francis by ignorant reporters, and you have removed the extremes at both ends of this conversation. Come to the center….a balance of all of us who treasure whatever we have, whether we can understand our Indian pastor in a small Alabama town parish, or a renowned scholar like B16 celebrating in available finery. Treasure what we have.

    My point is that everything Pope Francis has done has been “in character”, and already known by the cardinals who elected him. Do you not give them credit for their Faith, and for the aid of the Holy Spirit in the selection of this man to lead the Church? I did not think you to be that arrogant……but more “wondering”.

    Give him time to do his work in the way he knows….please do not make him feel uncomfortable by your expectations, as B16 may well have felt as the bear that was not set free. Allow yourself….yes, yourself….to be taught simplicity, if that is this Pope’s message. We need to listen, and watch, and (maybe) marvel at the lessons this unique follower of the man from Assisi may teach us……if we are open to those lessons.

  • greenlight

    Daniel, you may find them a distraction and I won’t argue with your perception, but that doesn’t mean they are intrinsically distracting. They are not ‘trappings of power’ and it is certainly not ‘time for them to go’ because you don’t prefer them.

    That lofty liturgy that you find so distracting belongs to me as well. I like it. It was probably the primary thing that called me back to the Church. It helps me focus my attention of the sacred and transcendent nature of the liturgy.

    If the danger of lofty and ‘fancy’ liturgy is a pull towards getting lost in the ‘trappings of tradition’ and getting caught up in rubrics at the expense of what they should lead us to, then plain liturgy has its danger as well. I find plain liturgy a people-centered breeding ground for apostasy and improvisation. We should guard against either extreme but for me, I’ll keep trying to move the needle as far towards the rich tradition we’ve inherited. The Church deserves no less.

  • John

    Actually they would just be people meeting in a barn. People meeting in the Church indeed is the Church. Always your disrespect is a pity: since you might be distracted by accoutrements that accentuate something beautiful, doesn’t they are distraction for the general.

  • athelstane

    The point is to give glory to God.

    Consider the Pope’s namesake, St. Francis. He lived in rags, yet he believed no expense should be spared for the glory of God. He sent his disciples out with precious pyxs to hold the Eucharist in; his ornate chasuble, made for him by St. Clare, can still be seen.

    The same was true of other austere saints like the Cure of Ars and Padre Pio – men who lived lives of extremely austere holiness, but worked diligently to ensure beautiful and well celebrated Masses for the glory of God.

    What must be fought is this idea that humility and simplicity in our lies and witness – either as clergy, or laity – is contradicted by beautiful and sober Masses, or richly decorated churches in which to celebrate them. That was never the understanding of the Church, East or West, going back to the beginning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lc1967 Lisa Paolillo Cooper

    Jesuits take a vow of poverty and Pope Francis even as a cardinal held fast to that vow. I think he wants to personally keep to the spirit of that vow by living as simply as he can manage as Pope. I don’t think we need to fear him mandating it for the whole church or selling off the treasures of the Vatican to feed the poor.

  • Marco

    Take heart. One lung. Damp Roman winters. It will be a short pontificate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002376529686 Martha Wrightis

    If the ‘carnival’ incident is not true, wouldn’t we have seen it refuted by the Vatican?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002376529686 Martha Wrightis

    If his vocation as a Jesuit is incompatible with the vocation of the Papacy, maybe he should have refused the Papacy.

  • taad

    True humility is not outward expressions, but an interior disposition. No one can really know if someone is humble just by the way someone dresses or acts. Some of this may really be vanity. It is only through time that one sees humility in another person. Pope Benedict did not always display humility, but was very humble. The world does not know what true humility actually is. They think is all outward show. It is not!

  • Ubrington

    Pope Francis omitting the sign of the cross at that meeting of journalists, apparently out of respect for non-Catholics and non-belivers, is very confusing, especially given his earlier emphasis on the cross in his first homily as Pope: “when we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess a Christ without the Cross … we aren’t disciples of the Lord”.

  • Poppiexno

    Some wag once said that the only two institutions that really know how to do pomp well are the British monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church. Opinions differ. Some opt or simplicity, some for the kind of “pomp,” if you will, of Benedict. Each view has some merit. The symbolism of the red shoes, the robes, the elaborate trappings can inspire us with their beauty. A simple liturgy by virtue of its simplicity, can also be inspiring. Plain chant (aka Gregorian chant) can touch the heart profoundly. But the people who bequeathed to us the wonderful Gothic cathedrals wanted to create awe inspiring beauty as a tibute to God’s beauty. Perhaps Pope Francis was too considerate of his audience in not using the Sign of the Cross. Perhaps some of the “regalia” that were once appropriate are no longer so. Moderation in all things.
    For myself as a graduate of a Jesuit high school and college, I would be happy if Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, causes American Jesuit colleges and universities to once again be Catholic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.johnson.14268 Kristen Johnson

    Is it humble or charitable to presume that these signs are not indicators of true humility — guilty until proven innocent?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.johnson.14268 Kristen Johnson

    In the homily, he was speaking to Catholics (cardinals, to be exact), while at the press briefing, he was speaking to non-Catholics as well. If the Pope’s prudential judgment prompted him not to make them uncomfortable, who are we to nitpick?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.johnson.14268 Kristen Johnson

    The implicit “hope he dies soon” in these sorts of remarks is disgusting and profoundly un-Christ-like.

  • Victoria

    If we are Catholic at all, we believe that the Holy Spirit had a hand in selecting Pope Francis. I suggest we leave him alone to do his job, and get back to ours: praying for him.

  • Captain DG

    You worry way too much. Catholicism so deep, so rich, so durable that you need not fear. While I have sympathy for your preferences, I think a little patience and faith is in order. True enough some treasures were set aside under Paul VI, but really the time between the end of Paul VI’s papacy and the beginning of B16′s was just a blink in history’s eye.

  • Andy

    Sam, It would do you well to read what St. Francis Assisi has to say on liturgical matters. It is not what you are here suggesting. His call was to radical poverty, true. But that poverty stopped at the altar rail. Or, perhaps more accurately, at the door of the church.

  • KBernadette

    What’s unhumble or uncharitable about questioning whether externals are indicators of true humility? It is prudent to let time tell and not jump to conclusions either way.

  • StAnthonyPrays

    Thank you for putting into words what many faithful Catholics are feeling.

  • StAnthonyPrays

    Btw – it is appalling that Mahoney was allowed in the conclave.

  • Elizabeth

    Who are we to nitpick? We are Roman Catholics looking to our Holy Father to be the Vicar of Christ. He’s not just OUR Vicar of Christ. He’s THE Vicar of Christ. Jesus wishes all people to come to Him for salvation. Neglecting to make the Sign of the Cross didn’t strike me at the time as scandalous, but in retrospect, I find it “uncomfortably” PC. It makes me, a Roman Catholic woman, very uncomfortable.

  • Tomas Antonio

    I would Rather Follow My St Joseph’s or Marian Missal from the 1950′s Rather that use todays Book of prayer that does not have the whole ordinary of the Mass in it ,Better yet Father Steadmans Missal from the early 1940′s ,When the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was really a Mass ,I hear mention of satan once a year ,don’t want to offend any one mentioning the Devil

  • schmenz

    I will have to agree with Elizabeth. A blessing, especially a papal blessing, is an extraordinary vehicle of grace for those who are on the receiving end of it. It is not inconceivable that it could, please God, lead one day to a conversion of a non Catholic who receives it.
    In a way, this is related to the practice of Catholics saying Grace before meals at a public restaurant. We do it, but not ostentatiously. And who knows, it might give some non-Catholic pause to start thinking of eternal things.

  • schmenz

    And many of us cannot take papolatry, Kristen. Perhaps we should all calm down, including you, and wait to see what this Pope does before either rushing to condemn or rushing to excuse.

  • schmenz

    I often think about those many poor in early 20th century America who felt that, poor as they were, nothing was too good for the celebration of Holy Mass. That is why we see so many gorgeous churches from that era, beautifully adorned and appointed.
    I think too about the medievals who would devote months at a time offering their labors and poor sums to the building of those magnificent cathedrals because, again, nothing was too good for God.
    Perhaps we should all calm down and take a breath, and remember that the Church is, and always will be, a Monarchy, and in this Monarchy, the most important one on earth, the “King” needs to be seen not as a peasant, but a King.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.johnson.14268 Kristen Johnson

    I hardly consider it “papolatry” (the worship of a false god, in this case, the pope) to do as the saints have done and look to give the best possible interpretation to this man’s actions and not the worst, until given firm reason to know the worst to be true. So, I am not “rushing to excuse” him, for there is nothing to excuse, and even less am I in support of condemning him for his evident good deeds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Brooks/1495080976 Michael Brooks

    Maybe what we see happening can have other meanings that we have yet to take a serious look at. Maybe, just maybe….God chose Pope Francis as a chastisement to the growing corruption from within, and the Scandal of the Clergy sex abuses/Cover-ups. Or maybe the simple Liturgies of the Pope is a form of crying out to God for direct intervention upon his beloved Church that he established. We really don’t know what God’s will is at this time, til we see how all of this is played out by Pope Francis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.obrennan Sean O’Brenan McCaughey

    Well written. It is interesting that among my friends it is the non-Catholics whom seem to cheering loudest at these first initial signs of Pope Francis ‘ simplification’ of traditional vestments and gestures. My response, were I not polite enough to ‘bite my tongue’ would be, ” if your looking for drab why don’t you return to your bleak, one room, Bible thumping meeting houses”. I often wonder why so many non Catholics of the Protestant and Atheistic variety seem to take such a critical and malicious interest in Holy Mother Church.

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    The morally neutral term “liturgical minimalism” is best spurned and replaced with, as Atila S. Guimarães calls it, proletarian miserablism, for this miserablism is of thoroughly revolutionary origins.

  • theWarningsecondcomingDotcom

    Please–read http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com
    –yes, the omission, obvious; these are prophecies regarding the ‘POPE,’ predicting abdication of Benedict two years in advance, and predicting ‘the new one’: also that, ‘the new one’, would set up as political, the office; regarding governing, which apparently has happened-is happening.

    Watch carefully,–as Jesus Said, ‘Watch,’ and carefully. WARNING: current ‘POPE’ IS PROPHESIED TO BE ‘THE FALSE PROPHET,’ FROM REVELATION, AND US ENTERING THE GREAT TRIBULATION, THREE-YEARS-AND-A-HALF-AND-THREE-MONTHS-DAYS-IN-THE-BIBLE-AND-HALF; some may feel protected of Philadelphia, in the Bible… …

  • theWarningsecondcomingDotcom

    Thank you, Louie Verrecchio; I invite you to come to Eunice, Louisiana, to speak on the Prayer of the Cross TO ‘PROTESTANTS,’ SOMETIME, PLEASE.–THEWARNINGSECONDCOMINGDOTCOM: YAHOO. …

  • Carlos Caso-Rosendi

    The article states a falsehood:

    No one knows with precision what the immediate future holds for the Church
    under this fledgling pontificate, but a faithful Catholic can scarcely
    deny that when the Vicar of Christ is reluctant to make the Sign of the
    Cross and to invoke the Blessed Trinity in an act of public blessing,
    there is no motive lofty enough to render it anything other than what it
    is; “an imminent danger for the Faith” that demands repudiation in
    defense of “the One who died and rose for us.”

    You can see the benediction complete here in this video. Pope Francis pronounces the Trinitarian Blessing and makes the sign of the Cross when blessing the people. That is seen clearly at 10:06 in this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8szDFB30azA

    I would suggest that any factual statement that throws doubt or shadows
    upon the Pope, the saints, or any other person set by the Church as an
    example for the faithful should be checked thoroughly as for accuracy
    and veracity.

  • Elizabeth

    That video you’ve attached of when the new Pope came out on the balcony and blessed all those in the square is NOT what was brought up in this article, is it? However, Mr. Verrecchio is referencing an entirely different moment at the conclusion of a gathering of the world’s journalists on March 16th in Paul VI Hall, where Dr. Moynihan states…… “he did not lift his hand, he did not move it in the form of a blessing, and he did not speak “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” out loud. He said, in Italian: “I cordially impart to all of you my blessing. Thank you.” And then, in Spanish, he explained as follows: “I told you I was cordially imparting my blessing. Since many of you are not members of the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I cordially give this blessing silently, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each………..”

  • AlegreViajero

    I agree: Some were non-catholics, but what about those who were…? In both cases, whoever accept to be in the presence of the Pope to receive a blessing, is a “public yes” to Christ. Not to be bless, is not to be welcome. To “bless” means to “say good thing”. The same applies for houses, crops, etc… I, as a Catholic, was hurt by the Pope’s attitude. Yes, it is a “harbinger of darkness”.

  • AlegreViajero

    May I add this: There is an old known principle called “the communicating vessels”: you remove some quantity from one of them and all the others intercommunicating vessels will irremediably response by losing in height and weight. Here we are talking about “removing the water of beauty and rich traditions” that always made the splendor of the Spouse of Christ. Striping the papacy from its symbolism is not poverty and simplicity but destitution, impoverishment and naivety. In consequence, it is normal that since the “smoke of Satan” has entered into the very sanctuary of the Church (as Pope Paul VI himself said), the “communicating liturgy” has lost much of its magnificence and meaning. Consequently, it follows that the “communicating faith” has also been weakened. As a result, the “communicating faithful” have been noticeably thinner in the pews – the practice of the faith. The effect of the loss of the life-giving “communicating Eucharist” – the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, is that souls have become increasingly anemic.

    The rejuvenated soul will suffer withdrawal, emptiness, and darkness if it does not participate in the divine life of God by means of the “communicating grace” received in the seven Sacraments. How terrible is the slippery slope that leads to the loss of balance in the life and practice of faith.

    On the other hand, what would be the effect if the pope, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and faithful were to adhere to the life of grace in a communion of life with God and one another? What if unity, based on love of God and Neighbour, were our priority instead of yet another “battlefield” mentality, where new lines are drawn in the sand and new casualties are added to the already unacceptable losses? What if the Church were enhanced by humility and charity and the contribution of each one’s talent (assisted by prayer and fasting)? What if each one and all would submit to remaining in a “cenacle of prayer” with the Mother of God until we received anew the gift of a “New Pentecost”, which would in turn lead to a “true ecumenism” and a “new evangelization”? What about withholding the murderous hand of Cane? What about opening ourselves to the spirit of Abel? What about the new Abel – Jesus Christ? What would Jesus do?

  • Cradle Convert

    It is interesting that he ridiculed expenditure on pets, many of whom are rescued, but said nothing about sports, the most magnificent waste of money…but then sports is HIS hobby. Maybe the Holy Spirit can teach him to think before he speaks. As for the papal tiara, I don’t careif a pope wears it, but did we have to give it to the evil U.N.?? Of course our disastrous Vat ll pope said that it was the UN and not the church that was the only hope left for mankind. Mire “fruits” of the diabolical and unneccessary Vat ll.

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