2013-2014 : Motus in fine velocior [Motion accelerates when the end is near]
February 11, 2013 is a date that will go down in history. On that day, Benedict XVI announced to an assembly of stunned cardinals that he had decided to renounce the pontificate. This news was received “like a lightning bolt from a clear sky,” in the words reported by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, and a photograph of a lightning bolt that struck St. Peter’s Basilica that very day went around the world.
The abdication took place on February 28th, but Benedict XVI had previously made known his intention of remaining in the Vatican as pope emeritus, an unprecedented step that was even more surprising that his renunciation of the pontificate. In the month that passed between his announcement and the conclave that opened March 12, the election of the new pope was in preparation, even if it seemed unexpected to the world. What was thought even more surprising than the identity of the man elected, Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was the unprecedented name he chose, Francis, almost as if he wished to represent something unique in its kind. His first address was remarkable for following his colloquial “good evening” by presenting himself as “bishop of Rome,” a title that belongs to the pope, but only after the titles of Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter, the foundations of the sovereign pontificate.
The photograph of the two popes praying together on March 23 in Castelgandolfo, presenting the image of an unheard-of pontifical ‘diarchy’, added to the confusion of those days. But that was merely the beginning. Next came the interview on board the plane returning from Rio de Janeiro, July 28, 2013, with the words, “Who am I to judge?” which would be used to justify any transgression. Other interviews with Pope Francis followed, with the editor of Civiltà Cattolica in September and with the founder of daily La Repubblica in October, and their impact in the media was greater than that of his first encyclical Lumen Fidei. It was said that these interviews were not acts of the magisterium, but everything that has happened since in the Church has stemmed from them; their character was magisterial de facto, if not in principle.
The confusion has peaked with the confrontation between the (future) cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Tegucigalpa Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the counsellors for the reforms of Pope Francis. According to Maradiaga, traditional doctrine is not enough to provide “answers for the world of today.” It is maintained, but there are “pastoral challenges” adapted to the times to which we cannot respond with “authoritarianism and moralism” because that is not “the New Evangelization”.
After Cardinal Maradiaga’s statements came the results of the survey on pastoral challenges relating to the family, launched by the Pope for the Synod of Bishops of 5 – 19th October. The SIR (Service of Religious Information) has released a summary of the first European results. The bishops of Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany feel that the Catholic Faith is too rigid and does not meet the requirements of the faithful. The Church should accept premarital cohabitation, recognize homosexual marriages and civil partnerships, allow birth control and contraception, bless the remarriages of the divorced, and allow the remarried divorced to receive the sacraments. If this is the road to take, it is correct to call it a road to schism and heresy, because it means denying the natural and divine law which not only upholds the indissolubility of marriage but also prohibits sexual acts outside of it, especially acts against nature. The Church receives all those who repent of their mistakes and their sins and intend to leave the morally disordered situation in which they live, but it can in no way legitimize a sinful state. It would be nonsensical to claim that the change only applies to pastoral practice and not to doctrine. If doctrine is not related to pastoral practice, it follows that practice becomes doctrine, as it unfortunately has become ever since the Second Vatican Council.
Must the Church give new answers “for the world of today”? The great reformers in Church history, such as St. Peter Damian and Pope St. Gregory VII did not behave in this way. If they had, simony and nepotism among the clergy would have been legitimized in the 11th century, so as not to let the Church fall out of step with the reality of the times; whereas on the contrary, they denounced these wounds in the Church with fiery words and worked to reform morals and restore the true doctrine.
It is the intransigent and uncompromising spirit of the saints that is dramatically lacking today. There is an urgent need for an acies ordinata, an army in battle array armed with the weapons of the Gospel, announcing the words of life to the dying modern world, rather than embracing its corpse. Between the Council of Trent and the French Revolution, the Jesuits were for the Church such a company of combatants. Today all the religious orders have fallen into decadence, and if one of them appears rich in promise, it is inexplicably supressed. The case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, which came out in July, presents an obvious contradiction between Pope Francis’ incessant calls for mercy and the iron hand with which Commissioner Fidenzio Volpi was instructed to annihilate one of today’s few flourishing religious institutions.
The paradox does not stop there. Never has the Church renounced one of its divine attributes, that of justice, as it has in this first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate, to present itself to the world as merciful and benevolent; yet never before this year has it been the object of such violent attacks from the world to which it has outstretched its hand.
Events are flying by more and more swiftly. The Latin phrase “motus in fine velocior” is commonly used to express the increasing pace of time at the end of an era. The proliferation of events shortens the time, which in itself does not exist outside of the things that happen. Aristotle tells us that time is the measure of motion (Physics IV, 219 b). We define it more precisely as the duration of things that move. God is eternal precisely because He is immutable: all motion has its cause in Him, but nothing in Him moves. The farther we retreat from God, the greater the chaos produced by change.
February 11th marked the beginning of an acceleration in time, the consequence of a movement that has become vertiginous. We live in an historic hour which is not necessarily the end of time, but certainly the twilight of a civilization and the end of an era in the life of the Church. If at the end of this era the Catholic clergy and laity do not carry out their full responsibilities, what the visionary of Fatima saw will certainly come to pass: “And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”
This dramatic vision of May 13th should be more than enough to incite us to prayer, meditation and action. The city is already in ruins and the enemy soldiers are at the gates. Whoever loves the Church will defend it, to hasten the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Roberto de Mattei
(Source: Correspondance européenne – DICI no.291 dated February 28, 2014)
 Roberto de Mattei alludes to the interview Cardinal Maradiaga gave on January 20, 2014, to German newspaper Kölner Stadt Anzeiger, part of which is reproduced here, translated from the transcript published in the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger .
MARADIAGA: I asked the Pope: " Why yet another synod to the family we had that 1980 , and we have the beautiful teaching Exhortation Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II in 1983. "
KStA: How did Francis respond?
MARADIAGA: That was 30 years ago . Today, the family of that time no longer exists for most people. And it's true: we have divorces; we have blended families, single-parent families, phenomena such as surrogacy and childless marriages, not to mention the same-sex partnerships. In 1980 none of this was anticipated. The world of today needs answers. And it is not enough to say, “We have the traditional doctrine.” Of course, the traditional teaching will subsist. But these pastoral challenges require answers for the world of today. And they cannot come from authoritarianism and moralism. That would not be the "New Evangelization”, no, no!
KStA: Your confrere, soon-to-be Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, apparently thinks more highly of the authority of the Church, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
[Laughter] MARADIAGA: So I have read, yes. And I thought, "Okay, maybe you're right, but maybe not." I mean, I understand: He is German - yes, I have to say, on top of that a professor, a German professor of theology. In his mind there is only right or wrong; that's it. But I say, "The world, my brother, the world is not like that. You should be a little flexible when you hear other voices, so that you do not just listen and say no, here is the wall." So, I believe he will get there, he will learn to understand other views. But now he's still just at the beginning, he’s just listening to his senior staff.