The one and only defense of the Pope’s newest letter I’ve seen

Here you go.

Why am I completely unsurprised it’s Dave Armstrong? Those who read Dr. Feser probably recognize the name.

Helpfully, Armstrong writes out his argument in list form for me in the article, so all I need to do is quote it. Obnoxiously, my laptop is just not letting me copy-paste from this site, so I’ll have to paraphrase to a point. The argument goes like this:

  1. Both traditionalists and radical Catholic reactionaries desired a return to the pre-1962 Mass
  2. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI agreed to grant wider availability and access to this Mass, under the logic of “Worship and let worship”
  3. Summorum Pontificum was the most notable effort along these lines
  4. Pope Benedict XVI saw both Masses as valid expressions of the liturgy, and by attending one this was not meant to be a license to thumb your nose at the other
  5. This is, however, what happened; the freedom of worship has lead to too many people having a quasi-schismatic attitude towards the new Mass, leading to people denigrating the novus ordo as objectively inferior to the TLM or even in the most extreme cases calling it invalid
  6. After undertaking a study, Pope Francis decided there was too much increasing division, elitism, and rigorism, and many people used the TLM Masses and parishes as an excuse to reject Vatican II,
  7. Therefore, to try and keep the Church more unified, he is restricting the celebration of the TLM.

The argument is eloquently made, and seems an accurate summary of what the Pope was saying. I of course have an issue with it, as you could probably guess.

Obviously the TLM is open to that sort of abuse. But why?

Seriously. Ask yourself this. What was causing people – in theory the people MOST faithful to the Church, who MOST loved the Mass – to have these sorts of reactions?

You’re gonna have to trust me here, and I think most of you will, but the novus ordo is incredibly easy to abuse. If anything there are probably almost as many Masses of the novus ordo performed improperly or disrespectfully as done well. And in these parishes, you get modern priests – like mine – straight up denying that something like the flood COULD even have happened, and openly speculating about alternate theories for why the story was included, in the homily. In a parish where we have maybe 20 parishioners per Mass – naturally my congregation has shrank – still we have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

So respect for the Eucharist is dropping, to say nothing of the horrifying statistic that over half of American Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.

NONE of these are issues in TLM Parishes. And not only that, instead of shrinking they are growing. Indeed, they are bursting at the seams, and entirely organically. I went on a random Sunday once and was forced to stand. Not Christmas. Not Easter. Just Sunday Mass. I have literally never seen that anywhere else except the time I saw a Mass said by Cardinal Burke.

And it is THESE parishes and THESE Masses being targeted. This is the serious problem Pope Francis – and the bishops! – are seeing that is causing the Pope to act. He said not a word about the Panchamama incident – scratch that, he apologized after someone threw the statue in the Tiber – he refused to say a word to clarify his weird footnote in Amoris Laetitia, he refused to elaborate on any of the odd and frankly contradictory things he’s said about gay marriage despite Cardinals issuing statements because THEY were concerned Catholic teaching was being misrepresented, he has shuffled around rumored sex abusers and done next to nothing to the German bishops…

…But people having an issue with Vatican II and pointing out hey, maybe the novus ordo is way too open to abuse and the TLM was the historic liturgy of the western church for 1000 years *for a reason*, espite the fact that the people attending these parishes and attending these liturgies are MORE orthodox and faithful on average…

…Well, that’s DIVISIVE!

Well, no duh it’s divisive. It’s divisive to point out that yes, what you are offering is actually, in fact, more holy and more faithful than the watered-down stuff next door is. Because it is, obviously.

We currently have in office a very bad pope. This is not new; it’s happened before. The difference now is we have the internet. But let’s just call a spade a spade here – the pope is bad, and this was a massive mistake that is only going to lead to a schism.

What this just did, was turn moderate traditionalists celebrating their Masses into radical extremists. If Pope Francis wanted to calm down the dissent, then needless to say *confirming the Vatican’s hostility to traditionalists by cracking down on the celebration of the latin Mass* was probably the wrong way to go about it.

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56 Responses to The one and only defense of the Pope’s newest letter I’ve seen

  1. Why am I completely unsurprised it’s Dave Armstrong? Those who read Dr. Feser probably recognize the name.

    When I saw Feser’s recent piece on Armstrong, I thought the good professor was being too harsh on him. Let’s just say Armstrong’s article is making me re-evaluate my judgement.

    Obnoxiously, my laptop is just not letting me copy-paste from this site,

    Neither is my computer. Maybe Patheos don’t want people fisking their articles. 😉

    Anyway, on to the article itself:

    Pope Francis’ Traditionis Custodis is for the Sake of Unity

    So, right off the bat Armstrong has misspelt the name of the Motu Proprio (it’s Custodes). This… doesn’t exactly augur well for his diligence and thoughtfulness in making his case.

    “Worship and let worship” seemed to be the guiding spirit of these actions… Catholics were not to look down their noses at other Catholics who chose to worship differently… But in fact… this extended freedom of worship has resulted in too many people adopting a quasi-schismatic attitude, in which they condemn the Mass of Pope Paul VI

    So we’re just going to ignore the multi-decade-long campaign to extinguish the Traditional Mass? The denigration it, and traditional Catholics, received even after Summorum Pontificum, even from the reigning Pontiff, is to be forgotten now?

    Yeah, sure, two wrongs don’t make a right, and just because liberals have been obnoxious jerks, that doesn’t justify traditionalists being obnoxious jerks themselves. But to imply that pride and elitism is some kind of besetting traditionalist vice whilst ignoring the forty-year scorched-earth campaign they had to suffer is just breathtakingly disingenuous.

    as has been determined by a study undertaken by the bishops

    A study whose results, as far as I’m aware, haven’t actually been published, so we have no way of telling how big the problem of quasi-schismatic trads actually is, or indeed if it exists in the first place.

    and considered it objectively inferior to the extraordinary form Mass

    See, I really don’t understand this attitude of “Mass preference is all a matter of personal taste, it’s extremely rude and arrogant to suggest that one form is objectively better than the other.” Just consider all the grief that the introduction of the Novus Ordo caused — the doctrinal and liturgical chaos, the schisms, the lapsations, the destruction of fine art, the loss of musical traditions, et cetera. All this might be justified if the end result was an objectively superior form of Mass, but to put the Church through such problems just for a change that doesn’t actually improve things? Hilaire Belloc’s line about “knavish imbecility” springs to mind.

  2. Rudolph Harrier says:

    On another site there was a commenter who said that if the letter had instead condemned Norvus Ordo abuses then there would be no talk of schism, because the priests committing the abuses would just ignore the condemnations. This was meant as a criticism of the supposedly disobedient nature of the people who support TLM. I.e. the idea was that “unity” required never even considering leaving the Church or attacking superiors, no matter what happened, but it’s perfectly fine for “unity” to simply ignore all the teachings of the Church.

  3. The Deuce says:

    We currently have in office a very bad pope. This is not new; it’s happened before. The difference now is we have the internet.

    I think there’s more to it than that. You’ve had bad popes before, but this is the first bad pope that you’ve had in a post-Christian cultural environment.

    And the specific way he is bad isn’t merely a matter of personal selfishness and corruption like previous bad popes, but specifically that he is joining with the post-modernist secularist ideologues of the hostile, depraved, post-Christian culture in targeting those who remain faithful to Christ for persecution and in trying to stamp out orthodox Catholic belief.

    In that sense, you are in an unprecedented situation, and so is the rest of the Christian world in large part because of that.

    Really, for a precedent, you have to go back to ancient Israel, of which the Church is a continuation, to those times when the people and the religious leaders alike had fallen into idolatry and were persecuting the faithful remnant.

    Of course, in each of those cases, the fall into depravity was a herald of imminent collapse and conquest of decadent Israel by other nations, and for those of us who are paying attention, it is increasingly clear that this is going to be God’s mode of delivering the remnant yet again.

    • That said:

      “And the specific way he is bad isn’t merely a matter of personal selfishness and corruption like previous bad popes, but specifically that he is joining with the post-modernist secularist ideologues of the hostile, depraved, post-Christian culture in targeting those who remain faithful to Christ for persecution and in trying to stamp out orthodox Catholic belief.”

      I don’t think this is as uniqie as you think. Obviously the specifics of a post-modernist, post-Christian culture are. But popes allying themselves with the spirit of the age is not totally new.

    • We currently have in office a very bad pope. This is not new; it’s happened before. The difference now is we have the internet.

      Related: the internet, and modern communications in general, have made the person of the Pope much more prominent, and made it much easier for him to impose his whims on the Church. Vatican 2, with its attempts to completely overhaul Catholic praxis and liturgy, would have been completely impossible in the days when all Missals had to be copied out by hand on expensive vellum and the quickest means of communication was a man on a horse.

    • John says:

      Well… the mentality that Francis is an active enemy of the faithful is itself one of the negative things which Francis may use as one of the reasons to justify his MP. And I don’t think this position should be held with ease – the benefit of the doubt should be given to the Pope not undermining the faith and maliciously targetting the faithful.

      • I gave him such benefit of the doubt. After it was betrayed time and time again, it seems foolish to continue holding to it.

        If, as you say, the semi-schismatic – what a silly word – traditionalist mentality is real, then the higher-ups in the Vatican shoukd be looking in the mirror when they analyze why it exists.

      • John says:

        @malcolm, Well, I’d question whether or not some of these instances are actual betrayals of trust. And even if it was, Francis’ hostility neither justifies nor causes some of the positively nonsensical things like the Pachamama claims or Taylor Marshall’s conspiracy theories.

        There really does seem to be a type of fundamentalist mentality or negative bias that falls for false claims among some traditionalists, all in the name of being against Francis – or rather, they just are the reactionaries.

      • “And even if it was, Francis’ hostility neither justifies nor causes some of the positively nonsensical things like the Pachamama claims”

        You don’t need conspiracy theories with that – what *actually happened* was horrifying enough.

        “or Taylor Marshall’s conspiracy theories.”

        I am not a follower of Taylor Marshall, and I’d venture a guess perhaps 1% of all attendees of the TLM throughout the world have even heard of him. Though, mind, if he claims there is something like a “lavendar mafia” running the Vatican, I’d venture he is a lot closer to being right than people are comfortable to admit.

        “There really does seem to be a type of fundamentalist mentality or negative bias that falls for false claims among some traditionalists, all in the name of being against Francis”

        Okay. Would you characterize Edward Feser this way? I agree with his response completely.

      • John says:

        “You don’t need conspiracy theories with that – what *actually happened* was horrifying enough.”

        Yeah, it was still a scandalous thing technically, though Francis can’t be blamed too much for wanting to create a scandal here in the first place. And the accusations of actual idolatry (which is what proppoed up the scandal in the first place) are completely false, and so Francis can’t be blamed as if he wanted to commit actual pagan worship.

        It’s fact that sites like LifeSiteNews and other outlets frantically pushed the idolatry narrative regardless of evidence, and so their bias ended up missing (or even dismissing) the truth. Thiis happened independently of traditionalist suppression otherwise, and illustrates the bias of reactionaries.

        As for Marshall, his claims include the idea that the Alta Vendita documents are legit, and that the Carbonari not only survived the 1800’s but infiltrated the Vatican later on. None of which has historical support. And while it’s true that many traditionalists don’t take him seriously, the reactionary subset tends to do so in part – which is a result of the bias inherent in some quarters of traditionalism. By no means all or most, but it illustrates that these things aren’t just the result of being suppressed.

      • “Yeah, it was still a scandalous thing technically”

        I’m sorry man, but if you characterize putting a statue of a neo-pagan goddess on the altar of St. Peter’s as “still a scandalous thing technically” we are so far apart on this I don’t even know where to start. It was horrifying.

      • John says:

        @malcolm, And also, I wouldn’t characterise Feser that way. He didn’t enthusaistically endorse and spread Pachamama claims, nor does conspiracy theories. And in general isn’t as biased against Francis as some other traditionalists who now call for rebellion against the pope because of MP are.

      • Right, exactly. I agree entirely with him.

      • John says:

        Except there’s no evidence it was a pagan goddess. There is literally no evidence that the Amazonian people in particular venerate Pachamama, as it’s an Andean deity and no data exists for Amazonians venerating it. Speculating that it’s still somehow pagan but of a modern variety is even less likely with even less evidence; the statue doesn’t even look like any of the known versions of Pachamama out there (Francis calling it Pachamama doesn’t matter in this context as it was done after the specific association had blown up, and if he’s to be considered fallible and dubious in other things, so too can he here), and seems to have been manufactured in Brazil due to the writing on it. And to top it all off, the seeming veneration the people did is pretty much compatible with bowing to God – as the statue was in a collection of other things symbolising the Amazon, so it was a request for God’s blessing.

        The case for idolatry that was put forward is pretty weak and inconclusive. And the reactionary outlets were especially egregious in their lack of critical thinking towards the whole ordeal.

      • “Except there’s no evidence it was a pagan goddess”

        Okay, so the case is, they took a statue that was really supposed to represent God (as a woman, apparently), but that the pope THOUGHT was a neo-pagan goddess called pachamama, and the pope was wrong about this, but he kept it there anyway and apologized after it was taken and thrown into the Tiber.

        So only the pope was committing idolatry, nobody else, best case scenario.

        This take does not help.

      • John says:

        Umm, no. I also implied that the reason Francis referred to them as Pachamama was because of the prior context of reactionary media pushing against the Vatican responses that it wasn’t idolatry. He would’ve just referred to them in an unfortunate fahsion, and if we already argue he’s vague and a bad communicator then it makes sense for him to make mistakes like this. It doesn’t imply he believes it was actually a pagan idol.

      • No, it just means he *wouldn’t have cared if it was*.

        See, this is my point with all of these defenses of Francis. No, I don’t think he was explicitly worshipping pachamama on the altar. I DO think what he did was horrifyingly disrespectful and you can just go by the things he *Actually said and did* to draw this conclusion. I don’t particularly care about rad-trad responses to it.

      • John says:

        Well in that case, this would be a conclusion reached for other reasons, or on the basis of other cases. By itself, this can just as easily be interpreted as Francis using the wrong word at the wrong time to refer to something (which is what it most likely was). To suggest that this shows Francis doesn’t even care if idolatry happened in this particular case requires more argumentation – him sloppily but somewhat understandably referring to it as Pachamama isn’t enough. And the field day many outlets had (mostly well-known reactionary ones like 1P5, RC, LFN etc., but unfortunately even others) had with pushing the idolatry narrative BEFORE Francis weighed in, still shows a tendency towards negative bias existing in some parts of traditionalist circles.

      • So:

        – A statue that clearly looked like a pagan goddess was being used in the Vatican.

        Best case scenario, it was highly inappropriate that it was there

        – Everyone pointed out this is what it looked like

        – The pope referred to it with the name of a neo-pagan goddess

        – He apologized for the removal of this statue

        – Anybody who thinks this was scandalous is a reactionary nutjob though

        I don’t buy it.

      • Crude says:

        > To suggest that this shows Francis doesn’t even care if idolatry happened in this particular case requires more argumentation

        It’s not like this is unprecedented.

        There’s already the famous incident of the Pope receiving a “crucifix” of Christ on a hammer and sickle, in response to which the Pope’s defenders at the time insisted that his facial expression alone showed how he had nothing but contempt for the horrific, idolatrous display. Except then the translation came with him saying he liked the piece and saw nothing offensive about it, at which point the same defenders acted as if the entire event never took place.

        The problem is that “more argumentation is needed” is often shorthand for “I’ll never admit this is so much as possible, to say nothing of likely”.

      • John says:

        1) And that’s question-begging as the argument made addressed this specifically – the statue doesn’t actually look like the common depictions of Pachamama at all. You can add to this the fact there’s no evidence Pachamama is worshipped via idols specifically, or that pagan Amazonians use idols in their worship, etc. It “clearly looked” like no such thing. There are holes in the story, some main parts of which you still assume is true.

        2) I already addressed Francis referring to the statue as Pachamama, and why it can be seen as understandable. There are also several other possibilities that one can come up with – say, Francis thought it really was a pagan statue, which he wasn’t informed of beforehand, and referred to it like that. And this wouldn’t imply either endorsement or apathy. Heck, Francis himself denied they had idolatrous intent.

        3) And that’s just a false conclusion. I said in the beginning that the way the situation was handled was scandalous.

      • So now thw story is some weird female statue of nothing was placed in the Vatican, identified by Francis as the goddess Panchamama, but he didn’t really mean it, he was confused, they were innocently placing weird statues on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

        Brother, something bad smells and you’re just holding your breath.

      • John says:

        Yeah, I wrote the comment when I was tired and sleepy, so the second point may not make much sense. What I meant to say was, as a possible explanation of Francis calling it Pachamama, that it’s possible he didn’t know the statues were of Pachamama (if they were actual pagan idols, which is fairly unlikely) because it was kept from him, and when the whole thing blew up learned it really was Pachamama, so that’s why he referred to them. Or that he wasn’t fully informed of the matter at the time he made the statement, and called them like that because he was uncertain, and because everyone else had started calling it Pachamama already by then.

        But the whole thing is moot anyway since in the same speech where Francis calls the statues Pachamama he also explicitly insists they didn’t have any idolatrous intent at all – so the most parsimonious interpretation is that he called it Pachamama because everyone else had started to refer to it like that because the whole story had blown up and the Vatican was already being accused of lying and their denials rejected. I mean seriously, this isn’t that hard to imagine – it’s just an unfortunate wording, which some reactionaries also somehow used as “proof” of Francis admitting it was an idol. Which goes to show how unreasonable some of them can be.

        Now the way you still continue to insists something smells bad shows you’re still working with the assumption that it was likely actual idolatry happening, and aren’t ready to change your mind about that. I can’t do much about that, except point out the problems with the official and narrative and hope you’ll start to doubt it as well.

      • I don’t think Francis had anything to do with idolatry and I didn’t think it was his intent, but what I’m saying is what was going on doesn’t make any sense and every “explanation” makes it make less and less sense.

        We’re they worshipping a Pagan goddess? No. What was going on there? How were these permitted to be placed in St. Peter’s? What were they statues of? Why call them Pachamama? Whose idea was it? What was the purpose?

        Who even knows? It’s total nonsense and the answers make nobody look good.

      • John says:

        Yeah, it’s understandbale to be frustrated with the whole ordeal, and for it to not make much sense since the questions that surface just make it more confusing, but there are answers to some of them, so it’s not like this is just entirely unclear.

        For example, “What was going on there? How were these permitted to be placed in St. Peters” Answer: Prayer for the Amazon region and people with lots of objects representing it collected in a heap. “What were they statues of?” Answer: They generally represented pregnant indigenous woman, and some of the natives also saw these as representations of Mary, which is also why they were likely put on the altar. “Why call them Pachamama? Whose idea was it? What was the purpose?” Answer: Whoever first blew up the whole story and started the claims. It’s likely a misunderstanding based on ignorance, as the Andes is a similar name to the Amazon, and some countries contain both, and some South Americans worship Pachamama too.

      • Crude says:

        >Yeah, it’s understandbale to be frustrated with the whole ordeal, and for it to not make much sense since the questions that surface just make it more confusing, but there are answers to some of them, so it’s not like this is just entirely unclear.

        Also, The Last Temptation of Christ was, if anything, a very conservative and orthodox movie. Now, some of the individual scenes taken out of context — Christ telling Mary Magdalene that the Kingdom of Heaven is between her thighs — may seem to rubes and pearl-clutchers as blasphemous. But anyone well-versed in the study of Nikos Kazantzakis’ work will recognize that he, a deeply spiritual man, struggled with a faith in ways that often brought him into controversy with conservative faithful (read: evil hypocrites) due to their uncomfortableness with doubt and questioning the faith.

        Yadda, yadda.

        An alternate view: as with the communist cross, the fact that it upset the faithful, particularly the trad faithful, was not seen as an unfortunate misunderstanding, but a joyful, surprising good. It was defended — and its critics harshly condemned — precisely because it upset them, and any attempt at offering an explanation would suck the joy out of the offense.

        It’s like James “The Rat” Martin talking about how he looks forward to the day where two gay men can make out with each other in church during the sign of peace. He’s saying it as a provocation to upset people. Someone can “re-interpret” his words in an innocent way (‘Maybe Martin is Italian. Italian men kiss each other at times. Haven’t you seen The Godfather?’), but that’s just part of the mental abuse.

        Hence, with Pachamama, the entire point of the episode was a gaslight. When Catholics were upset that some weird pagan idol was put on an altar, with clear comparisons to other pagan idols, to say ‘You misunderstand’ and try to alleviate their concerns would have been to treat their concerns — and them — as reasonable. There’s no joy in that. Instead, various lines were taken: it was an act of syncretism and syncretism is great. Or, it was not only the Virgin Mary, but *obviously* the Virgin Mary to anyone who isn’t a racist, and throwing it in the Tiber was an act of hateful blasphemy to Our Blessed Mother by monsters.

        You do not have to go far to find people — atheists too — celebrating the suppression of the Latin Mass, talking about how their religious relatives are upset and hurt and confused by their own church. What joy there will be if this causes them so much frustration and pain that they just give up on God altogether! These sentiments are real, and online, they are popular. And Francis, etc, will say nothing about them, because — again — that’s part of the point.

        The trads are suffering? They’re scandalized? Good. If they complain, tell them they’re delusional. Just hope and pray they do not respond in some way that allows them to find some joy and comfort and still maintain their faith and bring other to it, because what a nightmare that would be.

      • John says:

        @Crude, Yeah, umm no. Due dilligence is important, and kneejerk reactions to what seems bad aren’t always good. In this case, the fact that the reactionaries pushed the idolatry narrative without ever checking the plausibility of their claims against reality shows undeniable negative bias on their part. Which can’t be simply handwaved away by pointing to how Francis may also be oppressing trads, or took malicious joy in the whole scandal (which itself isn’t obvious – it’s literally just an implication reached if you accept that Francis generally is very malicious and loves to see the faithful suffer; and I don’t think him accepting a communist cross is a good argument to prove THAT particular thing – as opposed to Francis being a coward, people-pleaser, apathy, etc.). None of this removes the fact that they did indeed naively (at least) spread falsehood.

        In the Pachamama case, the Vatican and Francis himself explicitly rejected accusations that it was idolatry, and even explained that it was meant to be a statue of Mary – this literally IS dealing with the concern by answering objections. The rest of what you say in that paragraph is just more question-begging and assuming that it was a pagan idol, so nothing of substance.

      • Yeah Crude is correct. It was not a statue of Mary; it was clearly not a statue of Mary; and the pope is more concerned with pleasing people who are not orthodox, who are not Holy, who have no concern about what is good, true, and beautiful than faithful Catholics. The Motu Poprio is thus entirely unsurprising for everyone who noriced that; it’s just more of the same.

        Was it idolatry? No. It was “It might make the trads mad, but who cares about those jerks?”

      • Crude says:

        John.

        >In the Pachamama case, the Vatican and Francis himself explicitly rejected accusations that it was idolatry, and even explained that it was meant to be a statue of Mary – this literally IS dealing with the concern by answering objections. The rest of what you say in that paragraph is just more question-begging and assuming that it was a pagan idol, so nothing of substance.

        It was Mary (and obviously so) in the same way that The Last Temptation of Christ is obvious a reverent, deeply Christian work, and not a mockery. My view is that the Vatican wasn’t engaged in idol worship, but in baiting: the claim that they put some foreign idol on the altar in some weird display of syncretism designed intentionally to provoke seems entirely likely. They could have placed a statue of a penis there, and in response to the outrage, replied “It’s Mary, obviously, just an artistic interpretation” and you could, and possibly would, say the same thing. (“I find the Pope’s taste in art gauche and needlessly provocative, but if we give the holy father the benefit of the doubt…”)

        The funny thing is, you call Francis a coward, a people pleaser, etc. Great, you’re halfway there. Now realize that the people he likes to please is a smaller group than ‘everyone’. He likes to please LGBT activists. He likes to please leftists. He likes to please heretics. He likes to please atheists. He likes to please literal sex abusers, for whom he famously reduced the punishments for while in office and chalked it up to mercy. He likes to please Rat Martin.

        He does not like to please trads. He does not like to please anyone regarded as conservative, to say nothing of right-wing. When Cardinal Marx openly defies him, Cardinal Marx gets treated gently, even praised when he tries to resign. When atheists ask if they’re going to heaven while rejecting God, he gives encouragement.

        When there are protests over COVID lockdowns and people have been denied not just the sacraments but work, the Pope bitterly snipes, “They’d never protest a child lacking drinking water.”

        This kind of conversation is like talking to an abused woman who keeps making excuses for her husband’s outbursts. The bloody nose? She kept bothering him while he was busy, that’s on her. The busted lip? It was an accident, he just wanted to push her, but she moved in a weird way and his hand assumed a fist-like shape. The insults, the mockery, the humiliation? She brought it on herself.

        At first the reaction is outrage and a desire to help, or to at least get her to admit this situation is not *right*. She should demand it stop, she should expect better. But after the fiftieth time, and the fiftieth excuse, it’s very hard not to lapse into apathy and say she’s made her choice, and if she wants to keep kissing fists, well. It’s her face.

        Better to just let other people know it doesn’t have to be that way.

      • John says:

        @Crude, Nice, so more question-begging? There is no evidence that this was a pagan idol at all, or that the whole service was syncretistic. As mentioned before, there’s no evidence that indigenous pagan Amazonians even use idols in their worship at all – which makes it even less likely. And as also mentioned before, the statue wasn’t necessarily originally designed to represent Mary, but indigenous women in general, or the Amazon as such. But some of the natives also saw these as representations of Mary as well, and intended it to be so – we have explicit evidence of this in the video of the ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wioisaIU2I

        At 13:18 a woman brings the statue to Francis, and at 13:27 the announcer calls it Our Lady of the Amazon in Spanish / Portugese by saying “no(nue)stra senora del Amazon(ia)”. They also make the sign of the Cross and the whole ceremony is in general very Christian in context. This is also why it was identified as a statue of Our Lady of the Amazon – the natives apparently intended it to mean that as well.

        “They could have placed a statue of a penis there, and in response to the outrage, replied “It’s Mary, obviously, just an artistic interpretation” and you could, and possibly would, say the same thing.”

        Nice textbook example of bias there! “I can’t possibly imagine this ever representing Mary, and they look weird!” is not a good argument. The nakedness of the statue is related to tribal nakedness, which isn’t inherently immodest – and this also assumes that nudity can never used in religious art; Adam & Eve and the Sistine Chapel would beg to differ. The fact you compare it to a penis just shows how bad of an argument this is – superficiality will get you nowhere. You might as well start complaining about numerous parts of the Bible just because they also look real bad as well (“Oh nouz! It says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart! How could God violate someone’s free will? And wait what?!? It says the Hebrews killed ALL the Canaanites?!!”).

        And none of this takes away from the bias & mistakes many outlets (mostly reactionary trads, but also others) did in blindly spreading the idolatry narrative around contrary to the evidence. And even IF it was some sort of baiting, this wouldn’t justify or do away with much of the kneejerk reaction, naivety and unwillingness to think critically on the part of many of those who spread the narrative.

        I also don’t necessarily call Francis a coward or people-pleaser – this was in response to the argument that accepting a communist cross means he is malicious; that by itself isn’t enough to prove this much, and there are other more charitable possibilities such as him being afraid of rejecting the cross, wanting to please, or even not knowing how to respond in the moment & just avoiding difficulty.

      • Crude says:

        John,

        Enough.

        I get it: You love Frank, and more importantly, Frank loves you.

        He really, truly loves you. You know because he told you, and that’s all that matters. Everything he’s ever done for you is because he loves you. If you’ve gotten hurt, humiliated, confused, scared, upset, that’s on you, not him.

        And in those rare, isolated times where he did hurt you, well… it was an accident, and you know he didn’t mean it. No matter what he does, you can always find an explanation for why it was the right thing to do, or at least not a bad thing to do, if you look hard enough. That’s all you need to know the truth of his love.

        Frank owes you nothing. Be grateful for what you get.

        Now be a good boy, and cook that pot roast. No trad spices this time! Because Frank doesn’t like trad spices, he likes N.O. spices, especially the kind you’re allergic to and make you sick. It would be a shame if you cooked a roast wrong and you ended up with another black eye. The poor man has a hard enough time without you causing him grief with how you get hurt.

        As for me, I think I’ll skip the delusion. I’m stubborn like that, and I actually value the Christ and the Church, not Frank’s approval. Nor, for that matter, yours.

      • John says:

        @Crude, Well, I thought you might respond like that, given the litany of complaint, framing and overall avoidance of the actual arguments. So basically… you don’t have any sound support for your position on this particular issue? Either way, there’s no changing your mind on this as you seem to perceive this whole thing as an issue of approval for some reason, and somehow think it’s important to point out you’re the one who… is actally loyal to Christ..while maybe implying others aren’t by your wording?

        I guess this discussion is over with then. God bless you and keep you.

      • No, you are missing the point. The point is that the excuses you are making are extremely transparent and flimsy. Francis wasn’t an idolator, in this case he was simply more concerned about appeasing whoever brought these Amazonian trinkets into the church, and did not particularly care what they were. This is very bad; if it was isolated, like John Paul II kissing a Quran, that’s one thing. But it isn’t. It’s a pattern of behavior.

        Armstrong documented an odd 140 instances he had to defend the pope, with zero self-awareness. He wrote that with pride. Maybe if you’re always seeming to err on the side of modernism 140 times, the people criticizing you are not imagining things.

      • And so here. Are there actual issues with the traditionalist movement? Sure. But there are far worse issues with the novus ordo, and it is not a coincidence Francis just so happened to address one problem – very harshly, too – and not the other.

      • John says:

        @malcolm, Could you clarify what you mean by Francis not caring what they were? He explicitly said they didn’t have any idolatrous intent, and if you look at the whole ceremony in context there is nothing that suggests syncretism or idolatry, and plenty of things which show it’s done in an explicit Christian context and that the statues were at least considered to be representations of Mary as patroness of the Amazon. Unlike with Quran kissing or even the communist cross, there aren’t actually any obvious indications that this is problematic in itself – for example, if the whole idolatry accusations never happened, and you watched the ceremony alone by yourself and understood what they were saying, I’m sure you wouldn’t consider this a big deal. I really don’t think you can escape the conclusion that much of the drama wasn’t caused by Francis somehow coming off bad with the ceremony – rather, it’s some ignorant people starting the whole snowball off with mistaken claims, which then framed the issue in many people’s minds in the context of idolatry, and from that point onwards people can’t help but frame this as somehow being syncretistic or unchristian due to that influence.

      • He explicitly said they had no idolatrous intent, true; but they were clearly trinkets and weird Amazonian baubles. That you are sitting here straight-faced pretending in front of me that they were “clearly” statues of Mary is to me just more evidence of how absurd this all is.

        The two possibilities are

        1) Francis is one of the stupidest and most naive people on the planet

        2) Francis knew they weren’t actual statues of Mary but decided it was more important to be “culturally sensitive”. Hey, they COULD be statues of Mary, right? What, are you offended? Are you offended by MARY? Bigots.

      • John says:

        I didn’t say they were clearly and just so obviously statues of Mary – what I said was that they were originally likely not meant to represent Mary primarily, but rather indigenous native women in general, and the Amazon. But those same natives also intended this to be a statue of Mary secondarily, even though it wasn’t originally meant to be Mary. This is clear from the video I provided where the native announcer explicitly calls it the statue of Our Lady of Amazon, which means they also saw it as a representation of Mary, even if that wasn’t what the statue primarily meant. Here’s also a short interview with one of the organisers of the ceremony Fr. Carrasco Rojas, who says the statue is meant to represent both the Amazon and Our Lady (or Mary as a symbol of the Amazon and life), which also explains why it doesn’t fully look like Mary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDy0hg9hfmI

        In the end, it doesn’t really matter if the statue doesn’t look like it, as the explicit intent should settle the debate about what people were doing with it. And while some may be prone to hastily accuse those who don’t see how it could be Mary of racism and other such nonsense, likely because they want to firmly suppress the whole idolatry idea due the damage it was doing, this doesn’t change the fact that the statue basically IS intendend to also represent and be related to Mary, even if it wasn’t originally made that way. So yes, those people who insisted it was obviously Mary and accuse others of racism are in the wrong, and the better response would’ve been to say questions are understandable since it doesn’t look like Mary and wasn’t originally intended to be it, but it really is meant to be Mary as well.

        So from all of the evidence, if you sat there during the whole ceremony before the scandal broke out and understood what everyone was saying, you wouldn’t find anything difficult to accept or believe. None of it requires any straining of credulity really, once one considers everything in context.

  4. Joseph Moore says:

    Very well said.

    One bright spot: There are three bishops in our area in Oakland, San Francisco, and Sacramento who have strongly supported the TLM. Archbishop Cordileone issued the following statement within hours:

    “The Mass is a miracle in any form: Christ comes to us in the flesh under the appearance of Bread and Wine.

    Unity under Christ is what matters. Therefore the Traditional Latin Mass will continue to be available here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and provided in response to the legitimate needs and desires of the faithful.”

    When he was appointed, Cordileone got rid of most of his seminary’s staff and made learning the TLM part of the curriculum. So I think they’re good for now.

    Bishop Barber of Oakland has publicly and effusively praised the Confraternity parish and celebrated masses there, but has yet to issue any public statements; I hear from my daughter who lives there that Bishop Soto in Sacramento has privately reassured the TLM priests that he will make sure they can continue.

    So, maybe, just maybe, the bishops who are well aware of the inevitable and pending chronological solution, might just run cover. I pity those in diocese run by less accommodating bishops.

    • John says:

      Doesn’t the MP directly say that the implementation of any needed changes and the assessment of the local situation would be in the hands of bishops? In other words, bishops choosing to keep things as they are doesn’t contradict the MP.

      • I don’t think that was Joseph’s point.

      • GJ says:

        Doesn’t the MP directly say that the implementation of any needed changes and the assessment of the local situation would be in the hands of bishops? In other words, bishops choosing to keep things as they are doesn’t contradict the MP.

        ‘Akshually for the time being bishops can ignore the spirit of the letter by playing word games’.

      • How is doing exactly what the document said to do playing word games?

  5. John says:

    Dave Armstrong may be the only one who positively defens the MP as a good thing. On the other hand, Michael Lofton from Reason and Theology also in a way defends the MP, but not as a good thing. He seems to think it’s a prudential error or bad thing that one can disagree with, but not that it’s something earth shattering.

    However, he does point out that a lot of the responses from reactionary trads out there do kinda prove Francis point – there are a lot of people who call for direct opposition to Francis, which is basically disobedience and a Protestant mentality. Then there are those comparing Francis to an evil villain of some sort, and that this means the very Church that should guide the faithful is now undermining their faith – which is also problematic.

    There are quite a number of trads who are so attached to the TLM that they would doubt the Church’s legitimacy if it were fully taken away, so the TLM is essentially their psychological safety shield – which is also bad and will tend to draw one away from the Church if acted on fully and consistently.

    Now the truth seems to be that both sides are right – what Francis did may even cause people to drift further away from the Church (though they themselves would be guilty of this as well – scandal has two sides) and may even cause schism, and taking away the TLM for the many other trads who are faithful to the Church and aren’t reactionary fundamentalists is also bad. But the main core of Francis’ complaint… seems to be generally true, as there are many trads who do lean towards schism or have seeds of disobedience in them. And for some reason traditionalism seems to be a place where such an attitude can survive and spread (of course, this is not to condemn all of traditionalism, nor to deny its overall goodness).

  6. GJ says:

    this was a massive mistake that is only going to lead to a schism.

    That’s wishful thinking on the level of ‘Texit and we’ll be free from them!’

    In particular trad Caths can’t rebel and be trad; they want the easy release of being expelled. That will not be given to them. Either you grin and bear it, or profess some form of sede vacante as an escape.

    • GJ says:

      The ‘good news’ is…

      So, maybe, just maybe, the bishops who are well aware of the inevitable and pending chronological solution, might just run cover. I pity those in diocese run by less accommodating bishops.

      …as part of boiling the frog slowly, there will be some cover. For the time being.

    • Crude says:

      In particular trad Caths can’t rebel and be trad; they want the easy release of being expelled.

      The SSPX alone undermines that view.

      Though that’s why I suspect clear schism won’t be coming, or at least it’s not on the horizon: there’s no need. Many trads can and will pursue TLM and embracing traditional Catholic moral views, attending SSPX masses, the TLM masses their bishops provide, possibly discover the other rites, etc. The Pope and some/many Bishops will make it clear they find this unacceptable, and the lion’s share of the people they’re talking to will make it just as clear they don’t care.

      Accusations of schisms and crypto-Protestantism will fly, but only among irrelevant people, ie, bloggers and vanity project Catholic news sites. Actually declaring a schism will be up to the Pope, who will probably not do it, because the last thing a Pope wants to do is play a card like that and have everyone shrug and it ignore it. Doubly so since the post-V2 Church is marked by regarding schisms as not really mattering and how full-blown we-went-to-war-with-them schismatics are great people who make great points and may actually be owed an apology.

      That’s why it’s a laugh whenever people try to hit trads with accusations of being Protestants. What’s the Pope think of protestants again? He thinks they’re wonderful and they pointed out many great wrongs of the Church and their souls aren’t at risk for their beliefs? Good to know.

      • GJ says:

        Though that’s why I suspect clear schism won’t be coming, or at least it’s not on the horizon: there’s no need… the lion’s share of the people they’re talking to will make it just as clear they don’t care.

        Agreed. As a protestant, it’s frankly hilarious that both the more liberal and more traditional are both henceforth in disobedience to Rome.

        Accusations of schisms and crypto-Protestantism will fly, but only among irrelevant people, ie, bloggers and vanity project Catholic news sites.

        Agreed, ‘schism’ is all about ‘Protestant bad’ and ‘we Catholics united and never split’ vanity.

        That’s why it’s a laugh whenever people try to hit trads with accusations of being Protestants. What’s the Pope think of protestants again? He thinks they’re wonderful and they pointed out many great wrongs of the Church and their souls aren’t at risk for their beliefs?

        Post-reformation Catholicism revolves around ‘schismatic protestants bad and we’re not bad’. Vatican II undermined this, leading to all the hilarity.

      • GJ says:

        The SSPX alone undermines that view.

        The SSPX is still an immature response, a half-schismatic half-rebellion.

        It’s better than the most childish responses (‘Francis is our daddy, trust daddy, obey daddy, daddy must mean well etc etc’).

        But it’s at the immature adolescent level of response (another is ‘He’s not our dad, we have no dad, sede vacante!)’. Why SSPX is considered ‘semi-schismatic’ is precisely because it is semi-rebellious, and daddy Francis and mummy Church treat it accordingly.

      • GJ says:

        Post-reformation Catholicism revolves around ‘schismatic protestants bad and we’re not bad’. Vatican II undermined this,

        The SSPX is still an immature response, a half-schismatic half-rebellion.

        Vatican II undermining everything needs to be seriously addressed, it’s a crisis that you need to go through. Instead, as far as I can tell the SSPX tries to pretend that you can turn the clock back, pretend that Vatican II never happened. It’s escapism.

        Same for the TLM, it’s escapism. People are still spiritual babes, the world makes them spiritually hungry and the TLM feeds them. Which is still okay, it’s better than norse paganism, wicca, or ayahuacasa.

        But now Francis made the big move: the escape is formally banned. A mature response is needed, but there is no maturity. All right, over time suffering will produce maturity.

        If it makes you feel better, the traditional remnants of Protestantism is basically in the same shape. Mostly escapism, little maturity. No one wants to grow up, because growing up is painful.

      • Crude says:

        >But it’s at the immature adolescent level of response (another is ‘He’s not our dad, we have no dad, sede vacante!)’. Why SSPX is considered ‘semi-schismatic’ is precisely because it is semi-rebellious, and daddy Francis and mummy Church treat it accordingly.

        I think Malcolm makes a good point about why “semi-schismatic” makes no sense, but more than that — the SSPX response seems entirely sensible. They’re not rebelling against the Church, or even the papacy full stop. Their view is that the Church has established some teachings and practices, that these things are clear to all, and that there are limits to Papal authority with regard to them.

        Saying “That’s not a FULL rebellion” only leads me to ask if a full rebellion is needed. Sure doesn’t seem so. The Church has fulfilled a vital role, the Papacy is still valid. It just has limits, an idea which isn’t very novel, but people are pretending it is (and not out of sincere belief either.)

        Likewise with ‘Pretending Vatican II never happened’. Not really – they talk vividly about its effects. They say some things the Church cannot command — basically that tradition and past teaching trumps papal/Vatican innovation. Vatican II isn’t ignored, it’s just regarded as necessarily limited. Does the Pope disagree? That’s okay; popes can be wrong.

        Sometimes “Dad, get lost, this isn’t your business” is more than enough.

        Besides, Protestantism itself – as you seem to recognize – illustrates that full-blown rebellion doesn’t really solve anything. Indeed, insofar as Protestantism seems to have any meaningful holiness left in it, it’s managing by leaning on some form of tradition, ie, ‘We have already taken Biblical passage X to teach meaning A, no we don’t need to listen to the latest innovative critical reading from some lesbian with an M.Div whose interpretation lines things up with her pet political project.’

        Well, that and actually reading the Bible, something I notice most people aren’t doing, and their leaders don’t even suggest they do so, because everyone’s afraid of what may happen if a Christian who hasn’t been sufficiently tamed by approved authorities reads the New Testament, or even just the Gospels, without a chaperone.

        That said, I see little pain on the horizon anyway. Not for the trads, save for the pain of being denied a mass here and there (something which I wonder if the SSPX may respond to with more ordinations. I wonder what they think of Williamson right about now.) The latest casualty was that head of the USCCB, which sent some shockwaves, since some people interpreted it as a sign of how some of the trad-inclined intend to strike back.

        I wonder how the Vatican II superfans will respond if they realize that the cost of denying the Latin Mass to Catholics is their being denied access to Grindr. Maybe we’ll see.

    • “That’s wishful thinking on the level of ‘Texit and we’ll be free from them!’”

      You seem to have misjudged the tenor my response. I don’t think this would fix or solve anything. It will make things worse. I am not a sedevacantist or a schismatic.

  7. GJ says:

    both the more liberal and more traditional are both henceforth in disobedience to Rome.

    I get it now. Francis isn’t trying to persecute the trads per se. The real aim is to undermine the authority of the papacy. It’s an evil and brilliant plan, and there is no easy counter.

    God bless all you trad Caths, because you’ll need it. Endure to the end.

  8. GJ says:

    the SSPX response seems entirely sensible. They’re not rebelling against the Church, or even the papacy full stop

    Akshually if you ignore the illicit consecration of bishops there was no rebellion.

    Well, that and actually reading the Bible, something I notice most people aren’t doing, and their leaders don’t even suggest they do so, because everyone’s afraid of what may happen if a Christian who hasn’t been sufficiently tamed by approved authorities reads the New Testament, or even just the Gospels, without a chaperone.

    Amusing bait, but I decline.

    The latest casualty was that head of the USCCB, which sent some shockwaves, since some people interpreted it as a sign of how some of the trad-inclined intend to strike back.

    Also amusing, but starting cloak and dagger games doesn’t end well.

    • Akshually if you ignore the illicit consecration of bishops there was no rebellion.

      And they were illicit why? What great error did the SSPX make that made those ordinations illicit, was it an error, and were they wrong to do any of it?

      Summorum Pontificum points to no.

    • Crude says:

      >Akshually if you ignore the illicit consecration of bishops there was no rebellion.

      Who said there was no rebellion at all? I just pointed out that what they object to is extremely limited. Putting aside whether the consecrations were illicit or not, that much is true.

      Even you said “it’s just a half-rebellion!” Great. I – ha ha – half-agree. Insofar as there was any rebellion, it’s small. I say, appropriately small. You seem to disagree, but now it’s looking like there’s no conversation here, just schtick. Ah well.

      >Amusing bait, but I decline.

      It’s not bait. It’s just an observation.

      But now I see what’s going on here.

      You seem to think that we’re engaged in some kind of read-between-the-lines, passive-aggressive snark contest where we pretend we’re having a conversation but we’re really getting in digs at each other while trying to appear above it all.

      Pardon, but: that’s incredibly gay, and I don’t bother. I’m just talking frankly and as honestly as I can.

      Over the years I really have noticed that most people just don’t read the Bible. The encouragement to read the Bible has vanished, even among Protestants. The people who say “I read my Bible every day!” generally mean they read a few select passages that always make them feel really good, and stay away from the parts that upset or confuse them.

      It’s how we constantly get “Jesus always showed nothing but limitless patience and kind, selfless, sacrificial love to everyone He encountered” kind of talk, which evaporates the moment one actually, you know… reads the Bible.

      And in case that wasn’t obvious, it was a universal dig. Protestant and Catholic both.

      >Also amusing, but starting cloak and dagger games doesn’t end well.

      “Ackshually when I said you should go the whole way and have complete rebellion I didn’t mean making bishops uncomfortable!”

      From “You guys need to go the WHOLE WAY. You need a full-scale total rebellion! The kind that in the past actually led to violent wars!” to “Nooo you can’t spy on your enemies, something that has happened in the Church even before Protestantism and certainly after!”

      Swole Doge vs Cheems action.

      Anyway, this was a good conversation, when I thought we were having one. Apparently you’ve got some weird axe to grind, so I’ll bow out. But I’ll leave it by repeating a point you ignored.

      You say the trads need to fully rebel (which, again, just seems like some weird goading, not a serious view). Then you admit that the fullest rebellion ever — Protestantism — hasn’t even solved the problems the trads have had, because what Protestantism created is subject to the same problems. In fact, last I checked, you lot were up to the throat with Grindr types too.

      And that’s because the problem here really isn’t “a lack of rebellion”. What needs to be pursued is a positive, not a negative, which is what the trads are doing. They want TLM, for example. The only thing that turns TLM into even the tiniest kind of rebellion is an obstinate and frankly duplicitous Church hierarchy denying it. You can reply “W-well, that’s just saying that all that makes a rebel is clergy disagreeing! But that’s true of everyone, even Martin and the Lisping Brigade!” Maybe, but since the clergy is rebellion against their own traditions and teachings in turn, it puts the whole thing in a different light.

      Really, what’s being rebelled against is the world, not the Church, and in many ways not even the clergy. Christ knew that was the source of the problem. It was also the Protestants’ biggest mistake: thinking they were rebelling against ‘a church’ and not something foul that was seeping into it. It’s why many of ’em had even fewer defenses when that something started seeping into their communities too.

      Either way, good luck out there with the axe. I’m back to blogging.

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