This is a positive development.
As the polarization in the Church has begun to increase, fueled by a flurry of increasingly paranoid and bizarre open letters from former U.S. papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, some Church leaders are beginning to speak out as the problem of vocal reactionary dissent from the radical traditionalist movement becomes too loud to ignore.
In the past week, three influential prelates have added their voices to those who support of Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council.
Perhaps the most significant figure to recently reaffirm the importance of fidelity to the pope is Cardinal Angelo Scola, the retired archbishop of Milan who is widely believed to have been the runner-up to Pope Francis in the last conclave, spoke out strongly against those who have attacked the pope. Gerard O’Connell in America reported Scola’s strong affirmation of the authority of the Successor of Peter (emphasis mine):
“It is not by affinity of temperament, of culture, of sensibility, or for friendship, or because one shares or does not share his affirmations that one acknowledges the meaning of the pope in the church . . . [The pope] is the ultimate, radical and formal guarantor—certainly, through a synodal exercise of the Petrine ministry—of the unity of the church.”
In an apparent critique of the continuing onslaught of open letters, petitions, manifestos, and dubia unleashed against Francis over the last several years, the cardinal asserted, “I consider these forms of pronouncements, letters, writings, pretenses of judgments on his action, above all when they establish irritating comparisons with previous papacies, a decisively negative phenomenon that is to be eradicated as soon as possible.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Remember, Cardinal Scola was considered the “conservative” candidate in the last conclave. I can’t imagine that he would have put up with the barrage of abuse that Pope Francis has been willing to tolerate.
Speaking being barraged with abuse, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles has become the latest target of attacks from the reactionary fringe. His defense of Vatican II and some of his other statements have put him in the crosshairs of Taylor Marshall and others. As a bishop who has consistently sought to strike a conciliatory tone and remain “above the fray”—He’s been attacked for years by Michael Voris but never taken the bait, for example—has apparently decided that it is time to address the problem of radical traditionalism. He recently posted a video in which he repudiates those who claim to be traditionalists but reject the Second Vatican Council, saying, “Since the Church’s tradition includes the Second Vatican Council, it’s therefore impossible to repudiate Vatican II and claim to be a faithful traditionalist. There’s nothing traditional about rejecting an ecumenical council.”
Watch the video here:
Finally, the very promising Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, tweeted this critique of contemporary traditionalism, comparing them to modernists (similar to Rodrigo Guerra’s assessment of their post-modern tendencies in our recent podcast). Bishop Flores puts this forward as a conversation starter, and I would love to see this conversation continue. Sometimes Catholics are misled to believe that the most severe traditionalists are the most “traditional” Catholics, but in reality, that is very far from the truth. Reiterating what Bishop Barron says above, the radical traditionalist rejection of papal authority (and of Vatican II) is a sure sign that what they propose is contrary to Tradition.
A general statement inviting reflection, it suggests there can develop a convergence between two lines of thought often considered unrelated.
If you think it is absurd, or that it could be accurate in principle, but does not apply in our universe, at least you thought about it.
— Amigo de Frodo (@bpdflores) July 22, 2020
More and more Catholics are finally waking up to the fact that the extremist elements in the Church are becoming too dangerous to ignore. Bravo to these Catholic leaders for speaking up.
I cannot believe I forgot to include this essential contribution to the Catholic Twitter “memeverse” of WPI’s favorite prelate from Down Under, Sydney Auxiliary Richard Umbers, who created this illustrative monument of gratitude to the living Magisterium:
— Bishop Down Umber (@BishopUmbers) July 23, 2020
Image: Cardinal Angelo Scola. By Superbass – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.