My fascination with Traditionalist Catholics seems at a paramount along with Transformers, Bigfoot, and Jiu Jitsu. They seem to fall into three categories. Most are well-meaning in their devotions, pious and loyal to the Magisterium. They may have certain questions or concerns, but never outside of a respectful tone, looking to the Holy Father as just that, a father. While we owe our respect and obedience to the Pope, we must never forget that he is not infallible in all his pronouncements, but only when exercising a ministry regarding Faith and morals from the chair, ie Ex Cathedra. The Pope cannot change a doctrine, he could deepen it, but never change it, and for that to happen(deepen), he would write an ‘Encyclical’ not an Apostolic Exhortation. I consider myself in this line. The other types are the extreme ‘I know better than the Pope crowd,’ and finally the complete whackadoodle crowd, either sedevacantists (waiting for a spaceship) or the ‘conclavists’(My favorite is Pope Michael).
The latest controversy has once again the extremists frothing at the mouth. That in certain cases, some divorced and re-married may be admitted to Holy Communion. First off, although issues are black and white, people are not. Again, most recently, a leaked letter to the Bishops of South America was discovered, whereby the Pope ‘congratulated’ these Bishops for allowing the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments. What is not mentioned is the cultural circumstances surrounding this issue. Namely, the rate of poverty, and pregnancy, steeped in a traditional setting, whereby ‘shotgun’ weddings are performed. Whether this is an issue or not, is for the canonists to debate, us as the faithful need to remember that Jesus heads our Church, and the Holy Spirit will never leave us. This brings us to our current debate, one between Justice and Mercy. Essentially the two are not exclusive, despite certain ideological camps claiming so.
Our culture ceased to be a Christian one some time ago, and again, in my opinion, I believe this is essentially what the Holy Father is trying to get at. Our starting point is once again ‘Ground Zero.’ I believe, that to paraphrase Aquinas, the ‘act’ remains in the intentionality of the Pope. It must be addressed however that for certain people clinging to ideological bents, there arises a danger.
Certain members of the Faithful are troubled and confused, and instead of using this as a means to Grace, they lash out. As traditional Catholics, we need to be careful, so as not to cause scandal but instead to draw ourselves more deeply into Christ’s mystery. We cannot hide behind the ‘law’ and use every opportunity to embarrass people who do not share our views. I too, wish that the Pope could be a little clearer, but I refuse to engage in a senseless and downright nasty political campaign trying to humiliate him. We know the Catechism, Scripture and Canon Law,.. We don’t need to freak out over everything that comes out. Instead we need to take this time to grow in Holiness. Sadly there are people, describing themselves as Traditional, and engaging in Spiritual pornography, scouring the internet and criticizing the way the Pope ties his shoelaces. Even when some good news comes out, they try to spin it into a critique. Again, not just any kind of critique, but a violent hate driven propaganda spiel. The devil is shrewd, and can easily play a game of not only spiritual narcissism, but can also sow seeds of hatred for our fellow Catholics. The ‘left’ does not have a monopoly on God’s mercy, and I dare to say that both extremes are dangerous. To be pastoral can mean clarity, in charity, respecting God’s justice recognizing that we are sinners while at the same time trusting in God’s mercy.
Guys, I too am Traditional, but we need to take this time to pray and get ourselves right with God. Screaming about stuff will turn people away, instead we can ask questions in a respectful sense, articulate and intellectual way. I am not making excuses, I am trying to provide a way for us to sanctify ourselves, ultimately realizing that Jesus remains in control.
I will speak as a ‘coach.’ It is a slippery slope to criticize the Pope. We can question, voice concerns and even write a letter, but screaming does no good. (Imagine screaming at your father?) God is ultimately in control, He willed the Pope, and He lets the Pope govern. Whether or not it is for our sanctification is ultimately God’s call, not ours. Many priests and seminarians years ago criticized Popes John Paul II, and later Benedict XVI, and in not so respectful ways,.. let us not mirror this reality. Every saint was sanctified through the virtue of ‘obediance.’ This Papacy is not a political election and we need to realize that. When something disturbs your soul, pray about it. Speak to your priest, go hit the gym,.. but we need to reign in the dirty laundry because this is not from God. I know in saying these things I will alienate (again) many people who are Traditional, but as one of you, I felt the need to speak from my heart.