Blogs not Scottish

When I first saw a couple of years ago on Miss Ann Barnhardt’s blog that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had written a letter given his ‘apostolic blessing’ at the end of a letter, I think to Cardinal Brandmüller, I wondered if it might have been a slip of the pen, or of the memory, on his part.  Had he just forgotten for a moment that he wasn’t pope any more?  But more recently, the same intrepid bloggeress (why not?) has reproduced the letter from Benedict which Cardinal Sarah was forced to publish to defend his own integrity in the wake of the brouhaha over the celibacy book.  Once again, Bishop Ratzinger gives his apostolic blessing – to the Cardinal Prefect of a major dicastery, no less.

Now, it is one thing for him to have retained the papal white and even the title of ‘Your Holiness’.  These things are purely ceremonial, and although one might think them ill-judged, they can be seen as doing honour to the papal office by doing honour to the one who once bore it.  I believe among the Americans it is customary to use the title ‘Mr President’ not only of their current leading man but also of anyone who has ever held this position.  But the right to give the apostolic blessing implies a real power to call down graces from heaven.  One only has it if one is the pope.

Being a pope emeritus is like being a window cleaner or an air-traffic controller; that is, it is a way of not being the pope.  Did Benedict XVI think it would be a way of still being the pope?  Unfortunately, this is where what one must respectfully call the woolliness of his thinking does not help.  He has spoken of ‘remaining within the enclosure of St Peter’, and (in speaking to his friend Seewald) of remaining within the reality of the papacy, or some such phrase (don’t quote me on this, as I don’t have the text to hand – you can find it in the book called The Last Testament).  And worst of all, there are Abp. Ganswein’s ridiculous words, not disavowed, about an expanded Petrine ministry, with contemplative and active members.

I do not know what Benedict XVI thought he was doing.  And even if he had erroneous ideas, they would not have necessarily invalidated his abdication.  The canonists tell us that one can be wrong even about an essential property of an act and yet still posit it validly – for example, about the indissolubility of marriage.  The question is to what extent an error has determined an action.  As one commentator says: “The substance of an act does not encompass all its elements, or even all of its essential elements, but only those which must be explicitly intended for the act to exist” (Canon Law Society of America, AD 2000, New Commentary on the Code of Canon Lawcanon 1096, page 1304).  He is talking about marriage; one might suppose that in the case of abdicating the papacy, such an act requires knowing at least that one cannot thereafter exercise jurisdiction (including acts of teaching) over the whole Church. And he did say in his farewell speech that he would ‘no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church’.

But all the same, those apostolic blessings…  I do not agree with Miss Barnhardt’s belief that one can conclude that the abdication was invalid.  But at least someone should ask him why he thinks he has the right to give them.

Just as I was going along full of kindly thoughts, and had turned into the sign of (I think it was) the ‘Sun’ to drink wine and leave them my benediction–

LECTOR. Why your benediction?

AUCTOR. Who else can give benedictions if people cannot when they are on pilgrimage? Learn that there are three avenues by which blessing can be bestowed, and three kinds of men who can bestow it.

(1) There is the good man, whose goodness makes him of himself a giver of blessings. His power is not conferred or of office, but is inhaerens persona; part of the stuff of his mind. This kind can confer the solemn benediction, or Benedictio major, if they choose; but besides this their every kind thought, word, or action is a Benedictio generalis and even their frowns, curses, angry looks and irritable gestures may be called Benedictiones minores vel incerti. I believe I am within the definitions.  I avoid heresy. All this is sound theology. I do not smell of the faggot.  And this kind of Benedictory Power is the fount or type or natural origin, as it were, of all others.

(2) There is the Official of Religion who, in the exercise of his office–

LECTOR. For Heaven’s sake–

AUCTOR. Who began it? You protested my power to give benediction, and I must now prove it at length; otherwise I should fall under the accusation of lesser Simony–that is, the false assumption of particular powers. Well, then, there is the Official who ex officio, and when he makes it quite clear that it is qua sponsus and not sicut ut ipse, can give formal benediction. This power belongs certainly to all Bishops, mitred Abbots, and Archimandrates; to Patriarchs of course, and a fortiori to the Pope.  In Rome they will have it that Monsignores also can so bless, and I have heard it debated whether or no the same were not true in some rustic way of parish priests. However this may be, all their power proceeds, not from themselves, but from the accumulation of goodness left as a deposit by the multitudes of exceptionally good men who have lived in times past, and who have now no use for it.

(3) Thirdly–and this is my point–any one, good or bad, official or non-official, who is for the moment engaged in an opus faustum can act certainly as a conductor or medium, and the influence of what he is touching or doing passes to you from him. This is admitted by every one who worships trees, wells, and stones; and indeed it stands to reason, for it is but a branch of the well-known Sanctificatio ex loco, opere, tactu vel conditione.’ I will admit that this power is but vague, slight, tenuous, and dissipatory, still there it is: though of course its poor effect is to that of the Benedictio major what a cat’s-paw in the Solent is to a north-east snorter on Lindsey Deeps.

I am sorry to have been at such length, but it is necessary to have these things thrashed out once for all   (from ‘The Path to Rome’).

The Remnant are asking people to spread this historic letter of Bishop Schneider’s.

An excerpt:

What is at stake are the natural and logical consequences of the ambiguous expressions of AL. Indeed, they contain a real spiritual danger, which will cause doctrinal confusion, a fast and easy spreading of heterodox doctrines concerning marriage and moral law, and also the adoption and consolidation of the praxis of admitting divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, a praxis which will trivialize and profane, as to say, at one blow three sacraments: the sacrament of Marriage, of Penance, and of the Most Holy Eucharist.

In these our dark times, in which Our Beloved Lord seems to sleep in the boat of His Holy Church, all Catholics, beginning from the bishops up to the simplest faithful, who still take seriously their baptismal vows, should with one voice (“una voce”) make a profession of fidelity, enunciating concretely and clearly all those Catholic truths, which are in some expressions of AL undermined or ambiguously disfigured

{For anyone who missed this when it came out last year}

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles shared with his blog-readers his experience in the papal conclave of March 2013. Here is the highlight:-

When we eventually arrived at the Sistine Chapel on March 12, I was still pondering two or three candidates.  However, when the first blank ballot was given to us, and when it was time to write down a name, something powerful–and strange–happened.

I picked up my pen to write, and I began.  However, my hand was being moved by some greater spiritual force.  The name on the ballot just happened.  I had not yet narrowed my thinking down to one name; but it was done for me.

I wrote it, then trembled deeply.  That’s when I knew the Holy Spirit was fully working within the Church of Jesus Christ, and that my role was not to “select” the new Successor to Peter, but to “write down” his name–a name that had been given to me.

Is br Paul Coleman. He hath a blog. See that Eucharistic flash mob? That was him, that was.

(The author is writing about the meaning of vocation, and has gone on to describe the vocation to marriage and to the religous life. She continues:)

 There is a third way – consecration to God in the world. Cecila Plater-Zyberkówna writes that „it differs from the first two in that God most often makes it known only later in life”, that it often matures in the soil of what appear to be failures. Young people engaged in some task, entangled in some unusual domestic situation and responsible for it, not finding (despite their desire to do so) a person suitable for them or rejected by someone in whom they were interested – remain alone. Plater-Zyberkówna writes „this does not all happen by chance (for a Christian there is no such thing). They are circumstances permitted or brought about by Providence for rational and deep ends which should not be missed. In these ways God says to souls not to enter into marriage, but to give themselves to him for the carrying out of many tasks that can only be carried out by people in the world consecrated to God and at the same time flexible, familiar with a given area of life or society, well prepared for the performance of their profession, trade or function”. Their task is to sanctify the world from within. They do not as a rule leave their place in society. They are in families, in the work place, in social life and the life of society. The fact of consecration changes nothing on the outside. The consecration must let down roots in ordinary human life in order to bring God into it, in order to save the world by imparting to it the fire of love brought to earth by Christ and by pouring His spirit into every area of life. Christ does not wish to take them out of the world, but to guard them from sin.

Taken from a text posted by Pianticellawhom I caused to wipe four days of work sorting WYD photos by gmail-chat-quizzing her about Calvinist novels as she performed a crucial Picasa maneouvre(?sp?). 

A Blackpool priest who posts some very thoughtful stuff.  More or less representative is a post in which Fr Farrell wrote a very interesting reflection on the Passion  some time back, rather spoiled by saying that of course the Gospels aren’t actually historical accounts 🙂  (bless his cotton socks).  His tag line says “Life. Better when we engage”.  He finishes a recent post by saying “Now I think this has a lot to do with recent topics on this blog, and indeed with much of the argument that goes on among Christans today. But if you don’t think so, I’m sure you will let me know.” I’ve several times let him know I disagree: recently Ben Trovato did too. Fr Val’s now closed comments to all but team members …

Fr Val Farrell. Less ecumenical than the wee Wee Frees 🙂

Don’t let the boring colonial consensus swamp the 2010 Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards!

Go HERE and vote for Enlarging the Heart as Best Spiritual Treat and the Sunday Morning Soapbox as Most Underappreciated. Vote early, vote often!

A sacerdotal Britcatblog, Love the Tradition, Loathe the Traddies. By what seems to be a “traddie” (chiefly/only old-Mass-saying) pries; “The Raven is a Catholic Priest working largely among traditional Catholics. He had a life before ordination and wishes and prays that some of the faithful might do the same.”

A post to follow up on Aelianus’ analysis of What Went Wrong, How To Put It Right. It’s even got the same illustration.

Fr John Boyle is visiting a few parishes away (staying with a young chap I used to ruhtlessly exploit for lifts when we had the same lectures a couple of years ago) – what he describes is pretty much my parish. Our sisters are Saleisan sisters, not whatever they have in Ursus. Sadly our adoration chapel is more of a random corner, and we’re stuck with the crappy mitteleuropa allthecandlesononesideofthealtar arrangement, but then we have a lovely organ and a great bookshop (ask Tepidus). Also we’re not in a remote former industrial suburb of Warsaw 🙂 , but in a green leafy one on the metro line . So if after all those French religious congregations you’d like an idea of standard Polish urban parishes,  mosey over to Fr Boyle’s. (He has us on his “good blogs list”, so he must be a good thing.)

Sorry, I know, I know, another ecclesiastical culture wars post. A short, but very interesting, memoir of the liturgical changes and parish life. It’s all very well to sling labels around (and both sides do it, thoughrecent blog reading suggests that the “everything was crap before the council” brigade tend to be more moany and passive aggressive, and the “everything’s been crap since the council” brigade tend to be more openly bolshie and nasty), but possible freemasons in the Vatican aside, you have to assume, if you’re normal, that the intentions were laudable.

Just about this time the Second Vatican Council was well under way and changes in the liturgy were beginning to happen. The very first change was the insertion of the name of St Joseph in the Communicantes! But I was enthusiastic for all the changes, and can remember parading up and down the centre aisle of the church encouraging the congregation to sing up, sometimes to the sound of a twanging guitar!

Let the Welkin ring. (on some obscure microsfty blogging platform that is a pain for non-hotmail-etc users to comment on) (what’s a welkin?)

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