A Celebration of Vatican II, Under the Sign of Contradiction

January 09, 2023
Source: fsspx.news
Opening of the Second Vatican Council, October 11, 1962

On October 11, 1962, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. This anniversary has given rise to a number of remembrance ceremonies, emotional declarations, and disappointed commentaries.

During the Mass celebrated on October 11, 2022, Pope Francis stated that between 1962 and 1965, the Council had drawn from “the living river of Tradition without stagnating in traditions,” and that today it was still “timely,” in that it helped “to reject the temptation to lock ourselves in the enclosures of our comfort and convictions.” In his eyes, this “temptation to self-reference” finds an answer in “the desire for unity.”

And he immediately greeted a sign of this desire for unity: the presence in the assembly, “as during the Council,” of representatives of other Christian communities, especially Protestants and Orthodox. Francis insisted, “The Church did not celebrate the Council to admire herself but to give herself,” explaining that she should therefore not “set herself apart from the world but serve the world.”

A Pope Who Divides

On the October 17, 2022 Monday Vatican website, the Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci commented: “This harsh speech, which denounced polarizations and asked Catholics to remain united because, according to the Pope, ‘a Church in love with Jesus has no time for clashes, poisons, and controversies.’”

“Yet, when you read these words of the Pope, a bitter-sweet sensation remains. Pope Francis is making the reception of the Second Vatican Council one of the main themes of the pontificate. Traditionis Custodes, which effectively abolishes, with few exceptions, the ancient rite from the history of the Church, is justified precisely by the will to bring the Second Vatican Council to completion.”

And he adds: “Pope Francis never fails to warn against backtracking, which he considers a dangerous ideology. Backward-leaning traditionalism is one of the greatest dangers for the Church, on a par with ‘progressivism that agrees with the world’ because both are an ‘infidelity’ and ‘Pelagian selfishness, which put one’s tastes and plans before the love that pleases God.’”

“All correct. Yet, looking at Pope Francis’ pontificate and decisions, one cannot help but notice that in several cases, the Pope has oscillated between these two infidelities, seeking a balance that, in reality, he has struggled to find.”

According to Andrea Gagliarducci, “Pope Francis’s appeals for the unity of the Church sound more like a personal complaint about criticisms against him from various sectors of the Church. The reasoning seems to be that, if he is the pope, it is because the Holy Spirit inspired his election, thus he should be supported, not criticized.”

“The Pope asks for it by calling for a rejection of self-referential attitudes. By doing so, he proves to be self-referential himself. And it is this self-referentiality that, first of all, creates division.”

Pontifical Self-Contradiction

This is not a novelty. The pope’s contradictions have often been revealed by the press. Already in April 2021, Sandro Magister denounced them in Settimo Cielo, under the explicit title: “Francis, the Self-Contradictory Pope. Theory and Practice of a Non-Infallible Pontificate.” The Roman Vaticanist explains these contradictions as an unstable equilibrium:

“No longer father provincial of the Argentine Jesuits, but still with a party of ardent supporters, Bergoglio was in those years an incurable element of division in the Society of Jesus, and was judged as such not only by his Argentine adversaries, but by then superior general Peter Hans Kolvenbach, to the point that he neither wanted to meet him when he went to Buenos Aires, nor allow Bergoglio to set foot in the general house when he went to Rome.”

“He became pope in 2013, still with his psychological concerns, as he himself has repeatedly stated. It was ‘for psychiatric reasons’ that he explained his wish to live at Saint Martha’s House instead of at the Apostolic Palace. It is ‘for mental health reasons’ that he says he does not want to read the writings of his opponents.”

“The disorder of his speech is equal to that of his thought. When he speaks or writes Bergoglio is never linear, concise, direct, unequivocal. It is quite the opposite. He says and does not say, unsays, contradicts himself.”

The Roman Vaticanist cites a recent example: “The fate of the ‘Responsum’ of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – led by such a high-profile Jesuit theologian as Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria – against the blessing of homosexual couples. Francis formally gave ‘his approval to the publication’ of the Responsum.”

“Immediately after, however, he let slip his opposition. All it took, in fact, was for him at the Angelus on the following Sunday to deplore ‘legalisms,’ ‘clerical moralisms,’ and ‘theoretical condemnations’ devoid of deeds of love, for the proponents of the blessing of homosexual couples to feel authorized by him to proceed as they please. Without the pope doing anything to stop them.”

In passing, Sandro Magister picks up: “The chapter of homosexuality is perhaps the one on which Francis has spoken out in the most chameleonic ways, starting with that ‘Who am I to judge?’ which has been taken by many as the ‘brand’ of the current pontificate, making room for the most contradictory interpretations and practices.”

“And here, again, Francis has never done anything to bring order to the understanding of his remarks, sometimes pushed to bizarre formulations such as that ‘he, who was she, but is he’ applied by the pope – at the press conference on October 2, 2016 on the flight back from Azerbaijan – to a woman who had herself made a man and married another woman, both received in benedictory audience at the Vatican.”

The journalist concluded with “the enigma of synodality”: “Many times exalted by Francis as an ideal form of the Church and her government, but just as many times contradicted by how the pope actually exercises his powers in a regime of monarchical absolutism that has no equal in the last century of Church history. Because in reality, with Pope Bergoglio, synodality is just like the Arabian phoenix as set to music by Mozart in ‘Così fan tutte’: ‘That it exists everybody affirms, where it may be nobody knows.’”

Pragmatism and Equilibrium

On the Monday Vatican site of December 5, 2022, the Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci showed his perplexity faced with “the limits and risks of a (too) pragmatic pontificate,” writing that “In the end, Pope Francis’ pragmatism leads him to grant too much of himself to public opinion, even to the point of not defending the men of the Church.”

“Hence his balancing-act positions on the reports on pedophilia in the Church in France and Germany, reports containing questionable statistics [cf. the Sauvé report], which the Pope accepted, going so far as to apologize for the abuses. It is a pragmatism that also led to accepting the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, on the altar of hypocrisy…” as he himself recognized.

The Italian journalist claims: “Pope Francis loves the geometric figure of the polyhedron and often uses it to describe reality. One could say, making a comparison, that this is a multifaceted papacy because it is difficult to see all the faces and facets of him.” And he suggests, “the pragmatic approach risks creating a two-speed Papacy: one that is attentive to public opinion and one that instead, precisely because of this pragmatism, isolates itself and leaves a pope alone in command, and thus exposed to his own mistakes.”

Provisory Assessment of the Pontificate

Nevertheless, Andrea Gagliarducci states in an previous article on Monday Vatican (November 21, 2022), that “Pope Francis’s pontificate began with intense media hype and the hope that there would be a fundamental change not so much in the Church but in the management of the Church. In question, at the time of the conclave, was not the doctrine but rather the administration, how the Church had responded to the scandals, and how the Church had been able to respond to these scandals.”

Now, after nearly 10 years of this pontificate, what is it exactly? The journalist answers: “The attacks on the finance of the Holy See in 2012 were also dictated by the fact that the Holy See was setting up a system that broke away from the usual influences, especially Italian ones, adhering to the best international standards. Ten years later, the Holy See’s management is again firmly in the hands of Italians regarding anti-money laundering.”

He continues: “10 years later, abuse scandals still make headlines and are still used like clockwork. An alleged case of bad behavior led to the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, accepted by the Pope ‘on the altar of hypocrisy.’”

And he adds: “Pope Francis established several commissions during his pontificate until he promulgated a reform of the Curia, which, in his intentions, should have made everything more functional. But this is still not the case because there are no transitional rules.”

“After all, some changes are simple amalgamations that do not have much practical use because, in the end, there is no underlying philosophy. There is much talk of the synodal Church and of listening, less discussion of the Church’s [magisterial] proposal.”

The Predictable Effects

Andrea Gagliarducci then makes a disquieting, but lucid, prediction foreseeing “several long-term effects”: “The first is the loss of awareness of the institutionality of the Church. Passing from an organism that teaches to an organism that listens, the Holy See becomes only an accessory in passing for many.”

“It is not a point of arrival, and it is not a starting point. It does not have a defined philosophy. If the institution does not count, then even the work done in the institution can be superficial. This is a real risk, although it still seems a long way off.”

An he adds the loss of the sovereignty of the Holy See: “Some initiatives, such as financial centralization or relying on external auditing companies, seriously jeopardize the very sovereignty of the Holy See.”

“But if sovereignty is only considered functional and not substantial, it is not crucial that it is put at risk. At least, not for Pope Francis. Who, in the end, always decides on his own, and by deciding on his chances, not seeing the problems in their entirety.”

The Vaticanist emphasizes the loss of magisterial authority, “Finally, there is the risk of a Church that listens a lot, but teaches little. It is the risk of the synodal Church and excessive democratization of the Church.” And he laments: “These are issues that could be resolved with a precise theological direction. But this is precisely what is missing. And the effects of the pontificate will be seen in the years to come.”