While you might not be interested in the Latin mass as much, what Pope Francis does to it has greater implications
Last week I went to Krakow and Czestochowa to see the Jasna Gora shrine. This is the spiritual center of Polish Catholicism. Although I’m no longer Catholic, it was very moving to see the Catholic faith in Poland so strongly embraced by so many Poles. Although Polish Catholicism is facing many challenges, multiple Poles told me they are afraid Poland will follow the path of Ireland in a few years — it was admirable for now and for those who visit from the post-Christian West, it’s moving to witness such open devotion.
The comfort I took from being among Polish Catholics, and the admiration I have for how their faith brought them through so much suffering, only exacerbates the incomprehension I have over how Pope Francis and the bishops seem so dead-set on destroying the Catholic faith — or if not destroying it, per se, then on turning it into something it never has been.
The maniacal crusade Francis leads against traditional Latin mass is just bizarre. While there are very few Catholics who attend Latin mass today, the parishes that offer it almost always have a full and vibrant congregation. While it is true that there are some cranky and bitter people in Latin mass communities you will also find pushy, rude people in every church, the Catholic Church. I attended the Latin Mass a handful of times during my thirteen-years as a Catholic. Although I didn’t become a regular participant, it was obvious that the Latin mass was appealing to me. I am glad that Catholics who find beauty and depth there have it available as an option. When Pope Benedict XVI granted universal permission to the Tridentine Mass (“Latin mass”), I no longer considered myself a Catholic. Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, once stated:
He was correct, and he is still right. Francis has now taken steps to discredit the old ritual. By the Pope’s order, FrancisChurch has now banned what was once the Catholic Church’s most precious and sacred possession. This, Ratzinger predicted, calls into question the community’s existence.
It is not true that God would prefer to hear Latin prayers. This is not the point. It has to do the authority and the governing classes of the Church. Is it possible to defend Francis’s destruction of the Latin mass? This means that, after having accomplished this and ordering his bishops, the Pope radical undermines his authority.
Steve Skojec, a former Catholic traditionist who split with the Church and now views himself as an agnostic. In a typical Substack posting, Skojec slams the Pope and bishops about this. It seems that he was prompted by a decision made by the Bishop in Arlington, Va. to discredit the Latin Mass in one of America’s most conservative dioceses. Skojec writes:
As I’ve attempted to disentangle myself from the Catholic traditionalist movement I called my spiritual home for most of the past 20 years, I have made no secret of the big problems I have with the ideological, catty, ruthlessly judgmental and dour aspects of traditionalism, which, despite many protests from defensive trads, are not just online phenomena. But I’ve been too hurtful and angry about the good people who I knew were attracted to the Catholic traditionalist movement because of their devotion to God, love and commitment to God, and the desire to pass that on to my children. This is not what these salt-of the-earth folks deserve. They will be punished. They will actually be crushed by the hierarchical Church boot.
Skojec wrote: “The more my work led me to examine what really was going on within Catholicism’s inner workings, the more that it erased my ability to believe the extraordinary claims of the Church.” Regular readers will know that this was true for me. Catholics quick to criticize Steve Skojec should consider the fact that he likely had to confront a lot more evil within the institution Church than you. Stop reading if you’ve seen the evil and come out with your faith intact. If you don’t have the strength to look at that evil, stop reading and pray for Steve. Although I do not know Steve personally, I feel his pain.
Skojec continues — he’s volcano-angry, like I said:
The pope and the bishops and many of the priests hate the faithful they exist to serve, and they hate the faith they exist to protect. According to Catholic Theology, God placed them both in the authority of each other. It is a mystery to me. According to long-held beliefs, the same God that allowed Satan, the defeated, into the garden to tempt his new innocent creatures, is now allowing Satan to have full control of his Church. He has its leadership, and can use their God-given power to subdue those who are compelled to. This is what I can’t comprehend as a father. This would be similar to allowing feral dogs in my backyard while my children play, then just watching and waiting for the outcome.
I’m shocked at how much the news has affected me. My last Mass was over a year ago, but my blood pressure rose when I saw what they were doing. These evil, contemptuous and retributive sons of bitches are what I loathe. My entire life was spent being afraid that I would “ever speak ill of any priest.” However, these stone-cold criminals hide their evil behind Roman collars and episcopal miters.
To be precise, I am not agreeing with everything Skojec has to say. However, I believe he is speaking for many Catholics. I am reminded of Robert Conquest’s famous line about the behavior of Catholic bishops during my life: “The behavior and organization of bureaucratic organizations can be best understood by assuming that they are controlled by secret cabals of their enemies.”
I don’t believe Skojec has the right to feel mad at God because of this. One, Christians are well aware that there will be a great apostasy before Christ returns. This will most likely include the Catholic Church and others. It is possible that we might find ourselves in this situation. Another thing, even though I am not Catholic, is that Catholics remember that God didn’t promise bad people wouldn’t lead the Church. He just promised it wouldn’t teach errors. This, my belief, is the most serious issue. I find it difficult to reconcile that claim of the Catholic Church to what the Pope does to the old Mass.
Maybe, the Catholic Church may not be what it says to be. This is becoming apparent through the actions of the Pope. It’s possible. It is possible. I am an Orthodox Christian and I do not believe that the Catholic Church can be what it says to be. However, this point will not be debated on my blog. Steve suggested that God had abandoned His church. I don’t think that God would have done that, if that wasn’t his church. (His in the same way Catholics consider it to be). Skojec has one more:
So Catholics have a real dilemma.
One, a thing cannot be altered or destroyed by man. Two, men claim power over something they don’t possess.
Either the Mass and papal power are sacred, and no one on Earth dares to attempt to alter it, or both.
I don’t believe Pope Francis’s decision to ban the Latin Mass will have any effect on most Catholics. They don’t attend the Latin mass and may not be able to find anyone who does. As an outsider, who desires to see the Catholic Church flourish, it is hard for me to understand the reason the Pope does this. People who faithfully attend the Latin Mass are more likely to have large families and to remain Catholics. The conclusion that the Pope can’t stand these people and believes they’re the problem with the Church is hard to ignore. Catholicism in West is experiencing slow, steady decline and can’t afford to disengage its faithful believers. Francis, however, is exactly doing this.
Finally, Francis’s most trusted allies like Cardinal Blase Cuich from Chicago won’t tolerate Latin mass. But they celebrate it:
Catholics who deny Catholic sexuality teachings have special mass to commemorate their disordered condition. However, those who believe and follow the Church’s teachings and wish to attend the Mass that is valid since the Counter Reformation are asked to keep tithing. Is that really the point?
The liturgy is central to the life of the faithful, but it’s hardly the only battleground where everything that once was certainly true is now subject to being declared false. The Church will implode trying to maintain Papal Supremacy and liturgical/theological integrity simultaneously.
I approach this again, not from a theological perspective, but rather from the standpoint of trying to understand the purpose of the Church’s leadership, which includes its Supreme Legislator. What is the purpose of this? It seems that Pope Francis and his comrades would prefer to see the church fall than let the Latin massesgoers get a foot.
I suspect that Orthodox Christians will be seeing more Catholics in their parishes. The Church of Rome holds that priestly orders and sacraments are both valid. It is difficult for me to see Catholics such as the one I encountered in Poland leaving Catholicism. One of the women told me that Catholicism was so deeply ingrained in her identity and how she sees the world, that it is impossible for her to imagine being anything other than Catholic. Because she isn’t a Latin Mass Catholic, it doesn’t feel like her pain. The Pope’s changes can leave the faithful in confusion and weaken their faith in the authority of the Church.
I have friends who faithfully follow the Latin Mass, and they are some of the most prayerful and dedicated Christians that I know. Their pain is unbearable right now. What? What is it that the Pope does to them? To me, it seems cruel and inexcusable. None of the men are leaving the Catholic Church, according to my knowledge. They plan to stay in Rome, wait for the papacy to end, and pray for better times. While I wish them all the best, I also want to tell Catholic friends who desire unity between Orthodox and Catholic Churches the things Francis is doing make it almost impossible. Orthodox Christians can’t abide the practice of mucking about with liturgy.
Back in the early 1990s, when I got serious about becoming Catholic, one big thing that made me consider that the Catholic Church was what it claimed to be was its doctrinal stability. The papacy seemed to be a powerful guarantee against instability in Protestantism, which I compared Rome with the Protestant churches. After I converted to Catholicism, I quickly realized the stability that I was expecting to see in Catholicism did not exist in real life. It varied between parishes and parishes, but the Pope was certainly as reliable as any gold. John Paul II was then the pontiff and I, like so many conservative converts became a papolator. I didn’t think it was possible to have a Pope as Francis. While I was aware that the Church had seen some bad popes (think Renaissance popes), I found comfort in knowing that they didn’t mess with liturgy or doctrine. It is the duty of a pope to protect the traditions that the most important. Francis, by this measure, has caused great damage to both the papal authority and the teaching authority of the Church.
I can’t understand this, just like I said. 20 years ago I was asked by a Catholic priest friend, “How could so many bishops have been so blind to priest sexual abuse?” My friend replied, “They don’t believe God.”
Wait, I said, really?
He said, “Really?” They did what no bishop would do if they truly believed in God. This is beyond comprehension. It is impossible to comprehend. They may believe in God, the Church and themselves, but they don’t believe in God.
About Francis: He may believe in God but doesn’t appear to believe that the Catholic Church is a tool for social progress. This is like the Holy Father killing his children. Are you overreacting or am I just being too harsh? Send me comments if you are unable to comment on this page. In the subject, put COMMENT. The most interesting ones will be posted.
UPDATE: Just saw this from Skojec. The room is not accessible to Arlington Chancery Dudes:
UPDATE.2: Comments, we got comments:
It’s interesting that the most vigorous religions are the least bureaucratic – evangelical Christianity, and fundamentalist Islam. Bureaucratic institutions are also doomed for failure and sclerotic. This is a fact that history has shown us. God seems to loathe bureaucracy. And humans never quit it! This is an important part of the cyclical nature history. To me, the Tower of Babel is a metaphor for bureaucracy and pretensions.
I searched stats for Bergoglio from Argentina’s former dominions. Evangelicalism was barely a blip 20 years ago. According to statistics on Catholicism, Evangelicalism and attendance rates it is now that there are fewer practicing Catholics than practicing Evangelicals. In Brazil, the situation has even flipped. Other regions are in the same boat.
Bureaucrats can be atheists. They do not need God. They’re god. Their own set of rules and explanations are their own. Everything is “thought out”, systematized and their word is the law. God is mysterious. They are all-powerful, cruel, and life-giving.
“I bear the penalty of God. God wouldn’t have sent me a severe punishment if you hadn’t committed such terrible sins. “
-Genghis Khan, man who destroyed many bureaucracy
I am also at a loss over this.
I left the church years ago due to the pedophilia. It is something I can’t bear to miss.
Years ago I heard a conspiracy theory about a Luciferian ceremony that supposedly took place in the Vatican in 1962. This seemed as plausible as Bigfoot abduction and UFO abduction.
The Priests and Bishops are not Catholic anymore. Nearly every priest that I have met is homosexual. They don’t believe in God. They are done with the Church.
The Sedevacanist crowd (which I always thought was crazy) does not look so crazy now.
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A Catholic priest wrote:
To my knowledge the Catholic Church teaches nothing particular about the stable witness of the visible structure of the Church, her clergy and laity, or the preaching of her pastors other than to reiterate the Lord’s promise that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail. This belief can be seen in her teachings that faithful Catholics will still exist (or at least one) up until Christ returns. These two types of infallible affirmation occur under very strict circumstances.
There have been times when false councils gathered and when two or three men claimed to be Pope at the same time. It was difficult to obtain reliable information regarding events in those days because there wasn’t mass communication. It would still be hard or impossible to determine what is happening in real-time, even today. Even under the guidance of good bishops and popes, confusion could arise when heresy was spreading and before Councils were established to address it.
There simply are times in history, especially in periods of moral confusion, that Catholics–like all Christians–must remain faithful to the Gospel in the face of opposition within the life of the Church just as they would when facing opposition from the world.
Catholics, of course, can have recourse to the life and faith witnessed down the ages. This is admittedly a cold comfort when there’s so much infidelity. It saves Catholics the obligation of abandoning their faith if a bishop, priest or Pope contradicts it.
Naturally, if a Pope or the bishops were to claim to infallibly affirm the Gospel while contradicting it, a Catholic would have no alternative but to question whether those prelates were impostors acting invalidly, whether he himself had misunderstood the Gospel or the new “affirmation,” or whether the Catholic Church was what it claimed to be.
Jesus never promised we’d avoid these sorts of trouble. He warned of divisions, false teachers and apostasy. Unfortunately, many Catholics are still not able to see the implications of this fact for their wildly optimistic view of the Church’s witness and infallibility as well as the character of her teaching institution.
Catholics, like most Christians, would wish not to live in such times. These are our times. God provides for us in these times. We must put our trust in God, be patient, endure, see, and pray for his sake.