The pope, the papacy, and the love of God…

[20 Nov 2013 — I have amended this post, a day later, as shown in red.] 

Recently Steve Skojec highlighted a quotation that showed up in a combox at his blog, and, as far as repetitio mater studiorum est, it deserves to be seen more than a couple times. I’ve cited it before, and I’ll cite again now–though, this time, as a cause célèbre for bibliographical nerds everywhere.

“Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.”

I agree, but I wanted to know if this quotation was legit, so I went on a manic little rabbit chase for it, but, a couple days later, was delivered by the good graces of a couple commenters here.

ice age squirrel nut ice float

First, one commenter informed me:

[The quotation comes] from Cano’s De Locis Theologicis [PDF!], but it is not exact. Parts have been taken out and it has been rearranged. Here it is with some context:

Quibus rebus expositis, primum, secundum ac tertium argumentum facile refelluntur. Nam quae de postremo disputari possunt, illa nobis alio tempore atque ad aliud institutum, si facultas erit, explicabuntur. Nunc illud breviter dici potest, qui summi Pontificis omne de re quacumque iudicium temere ac sine delectu defendunt, hos sedis apostolicae auctoritatem labefactare, non fovere; evertere, non firmare. Nam ut ea praetereamus, quae paulo ante in hoc capite explicata sunt, quid tandem adversum haereticos disputando ille proficiet, quem viderint non iudicio, sed affectu patrocinium auctoritatis pontificiae suscipere, nec id agere, ut dispositionis suae vi lucem ac veritatem eliciat, sed ut se ad alterius sensum voluntatemque convertat? Non eget Petrus mendacio nostro, nostra adulatione non eget.

The last sentence above is the first of the quote: Non eget Petrus mendacio nostro, nostra adulatione non eget.

And this sentence minus the first clause is the second [part] of the quote: Nunc illud breviter dici potest, qui summi Pontificis omne de re quacumque iudicium temere ac sine delectu defendunt, hos sedis apostolicae auctoritatem labefactare, non fovere; evertere, non firmare.

Not long after that, another helpful commenter told me much the same:

[The quotation is from] Melchor Cano’s De Locis Theologicis Libri Duodecim (1563). I believe this is the original passage in full, and in the original Latin:

Nunc illud breviter dici potest, qui summi pontificis omne de re quacunque iudicium temerè ac sine delectu defendunt: hos sedis Apostolicae auctoritatem labefactare, non fovere: evertere non firmare. Nam ut ea praetereamus, quae paulò antè in hoc capite explicata sunt, quid tandem adversum haereticos disputando ille proficiet, quem viderint non iudicio, sed affectu patrocinium auctoritatis pontificiae suscipere, nec id agere ut disputationis suae vi lucem ac veritatem eliciat, sed ut se ad alterius sensum voluntatemque convertat? Non eget Petrus mendacio nostro, nostra adulatione non eget.

[I was urged to provide a translation for the benefit of my readers, but my Latin is nowhere near good enough for that. Sorry! I will, however compile the Latin into the order in which it is given in the English quotation on Skojec’s blog: 

Non eget Petrus mendacio nostro, nostra adulatione non eget. qui summi pontificis omne de re quacunque iudicium temerè ac sine delectu defendunt: hos sedis Apostolicae auctoritatem labefactare, non fovere: evertere non firmare.

I’m extremely curious to know whence the English quotation comes, since it was, apparently, quoted twice on Skojec’s blog by two different commenters. It’s clearly not an urban legend, but…? Anyway, for now let me add that the quotation comes from chapter 5 of Cano’s De Locis Theologici, p. 208 of the above-linked PDF, the topic of which is “UBI NODI QUIDAM SOLVUNTUR, QUIBUS INTERDUM HOMINES ETIAM DOCTI ILLIGARI SOLENT” (Wherein some knots are untied which have been know to entangled men and [even] a Doctor).]

[Aside from the above display of bibliographical OCD,] I don’t have any commentary to add to this quotation. The point is that it rings my bibliographical bell, and reminds me once again how much I miss Fr. Jaki. He was a master of exact and exacting bibliographical citations, and I try to emulate him in this respect, among others. It feels wonderful to my nerd brain to nail down an elusive bibliographical loose end!


Meanwhile, I shouldn’t let a perfectly good blog post go to waste, so let me note a few salient highlights from the Artistry Formerly Known As The Roman Pontificate. (To wit, thanks to the Web Archive, the Scalfari is forgotten but not gone.)

First, if you don’t read German, use whatever translation app you have to peruse this article. I’ll highlight only a few points.

„Der christliche Glaube an die Auferstehung hänge, so Erzbischof Marx, damit zusammen, „daß wir Gott für möglich halten“. … Wenn Gott jeden Menschen von Ewigkeit her gewollt hat und liebt, dann kann mit dem Tod nicht alles vorbei sein“.

“The Christian faith in the resurrection,” according to Archbishop [Cardinal] Marx, “depends on our treating God as possible. … If God wanted and loved everyone from eternity, then not everything can be over [or, done] at death.”

Zur Auferstehung meinte der Kardinal, daß Gott uns die Zusage gebe, daß er uns mit seiner Hilfe verwandeln und in die Vollendung führen werde, „aber ohne erhobenen Zeigefinger und ohne eine Hölle mit Folter, Gefängnis und Siedeofen“. —

“Resurrection,” said the cardinal, “means that God gives us the assurance that He will help to transform us and lead us into perfection, but without a wagging [moralistic] finger and without a hell of torture, imprisonment and the oven.”

„Denn Jesus sei es darum gegangen, nicht Sünden aufzuzählen, sondern jedem Menschen Heil und Rettung zuzusagen … Die Kirche muß im Miteinander die Angst vertreiben“, unterstrich Kardinal Marx. Um sich vorzustellen, was nach dem Tod komme, brauche der Mensch Bilder, „aber das müssen Bilder der Zuversicht, der Hoffnung sein, Bilder, die uns helfen und voranbringen, auch wenn sie uns keine endgültige Antwort geben können“. —

“Jesus came, not to count sins, but rather to offer everyone healing and salvation. In companionship, the Church must expunge fear, the cardinal states. In order to imagine what comes after death, people need images that provide us comfort and hope even if it cannot provide us with an ultimate answer.”

I’ve seen some charitable responses to this on my Facebook page, and I think there’s a reading of this that isn’t just sub-Catholic. After all, these days, Hell is not even a dogma anymore, right? But as a friend reminded me, there’s no need to be soft on the Germans when they go nutty. And what, honestly, is going on with the Church in Germany lately?

I think there’s a secret betting pool in the Vatican for who can be nuttier: Maradiaga or Marx? 

Second, I recently discovered an interesting document, care of Fordham Univerisity, which encapsulates the Peronist ideology. Does it express ideas that sound like our Pope? Not perfectly, I grant, but you decide if the Peronist lens helps or hinders our ever tentative understanding of Pope Francis, especially when exegeting of Our Francis of the Interviews.  I will add a few parenthetical notes (mainly, you can just replace Argentina with “the Church” and “Argentinians” with “Christians”), but for the most part I’ll just provide a few samples of straight-from-the-mouth Peronism:

[The aim of Peronism] is that every Argentine should pull his weight for the Argentines and that economic policy which maintained that this was a permanent and perfect school of capitalist exploitation should be replaced by a doctrine of social economy under which the distribution of our wealth … may be shared out fairly among all those who have contributed by their efforts to amass it.

That is Perónism. And Perónism is not learned, nor just talked about: one feels it or else disagrees. Perónism is a question of the heart rather than of the head. Fortunately I am not one of those Presidents who live a life apart, but on the contrary I live among my people, just as I have always lived; so that I share all the ups and downs, all their successes an all their disappointments with my working class people. I feel an intimate satisfaction when I see a workman who is well dressed or taking his family to the theatre. …

They are good Argentines, no matter what their origin, their race or their religion may be, if they work every day for the greatness of the Nation, and they are bad Argentines, no matter what they say or how much they shout, if they are not laying a new stone every day towards the construction of the building of the [horizontal] happiness and grandeur of our Nation.

That is the only discrimination which Argentina should make among its inhabitants: those who are doing constructive work and those who are not; those who are benefactors to the country and those who are not. For this reason in this freest land of the free, as long as I am President of the Republic, no one will be persecuted by anyone else. [Who am I to judge?]

There is only one class of men for the Perónist cause: the workers [i.e. the People of God]. … Politics do not constitute for us a definite objective but only a means of achieving the Homeland’s welfare represented by the happiness of the people [!] and the greatness of the nation. …

A Government without a doctrine is a body without a soul. That is why Perónism has established its own political, economic and social doctrines: Justicialism. Justicialism is a new philosophical school of life [i.e a new beginning free from ideology? a new truth “way of life”?]. It is simple, practical, popular and endowed with deeply Christian and humanitarian [!] sentiments. … We are an organized State and a free people ruled by a centralized [but not Vatican-centric] government. The best of this land of ours is its people.



I’ve been accused of being a “RadTrad” whose on my way into the black hole of sedevacantism, but that’s just trollish bluster. For those of us who value cogitation, even with a decent amount of cadgerly codgitation in the mix, we realize that the drama of faith is more complex than the neat slogans that soft-ultramontanism would foist upon us. I am not without fault, and so I strive to be fair to the office which Christ instituted when he called Peter the “Rock.” If we can’t be fair to the pope, we can’t be fair to ourselves as Catholics. I think Michael Matt, in the following video, strikes the right balance.

Turnaround is fair play. 

Let me close with some remarks from John Allen about just how “mystical” we should hold a conclave to be, and thus how much we must remember that the Kingdom of God is as full of weeds as wheat until the Eschaton. Allen writes that

…the traditional Catholic conviction [is] that a conclave unfolds under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In 2005, this idea was summed up by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of Florence, who said God already knew who the new pope was, so it was simply up to the cardinals to figure out what God had already decided.

Some pious souls take that to mean that it’s inappropriate, even borderline heretical, to suggest that politics are involved. Yet Catholic theology also holds that “grace builds on nature,” meaning that the spiritual dimension of a papal election doesn’t make it any less political.

Anyway, one shouldn’t exaggerate the role of divine inspiration. As one cardinal put it to me after the election of Benedict XVI, “I was never whapped on the head by the Holy Spirit. I had to make the best choice I could based on the information available.”

Perhaps the classic expression of this idea belongs to none other than the outgoing pope, Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked on Bavarian television in 1997 if the Holy Spirit is responsible for who gets elected. This was his response:

I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.

Then the clincher:

There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!

I’ve been able to locate a German source for the quotation from Ratzinger, but it’s a 2007 review of George Weigel’s book, God’s Choice, and I can’t find the “clincher” that Allen mentions. Indeed, it seems just to be a German translation of what Weigel cited from Allen, so, unless I can find the video footage for myself, this is the best citation I can find for now (viz. pp. 278-279, n. 1, of Weigel’s book, a reference which is itself a reference to John Allen’s The Rise of Benedict XVI, p. 6).


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The pope, the papacy, and the love of God…

  1. IbnYaqob says:

    Codg has it never occurred to you that if Cano himself read your blog and the trash you talked about Pope Francis he might very well conclude you are not in fact objectively following his advice but speaking calumny, detraction and slander & using him to justify it?

    This issue has never been the legitimacy of valid respectful criticism of the Pope. It’s been one of fairness and respect.

    Note it’s not just your “enemies” like moi who have had this problem with you. But your friends(Crude, Malcolm etc) who have also taken issue with you.

    Give it a rest and go to confession. Start reading respectful critics and emulate their style & stop quoting SSPX sympathizers and their schismatic ilk then maybe some people won’t call you a radtrad.

    Ya think?

  2. Branch says:

    I think the tone of many of your posts, even if I agree with the content, is sarcastic and disrespectful. “Our Francis of the Interviews” is a patronizing phrase worthy only of a tabloid reporter.

  3. To be fair, Crude has not been as harsh as I’ve been…which is pretty harsh.

  4. c matt says:

    may be shared out fairly among all those who have contributed by their efforts to amass it.

    The problem with socialist and quasi-socialist systems is who gets to determine what is fair, what is a worthy contribution, who put forth adequate effort? At least capitalist systems, for their other faults, put those decisions in the hands of individual participants in the economy, not the state (of course, there is no pure capitalist system either, and perhaps we would not want one).

  5. Also, I vaguely remember Pope Benedict writing some vaguely alarming document about putting together a “world bank”. The modern Popes aren’t exactly economists. The difference is that the media didn’t really care about Pope Benedict at best and disliked him at worst, and so didn’t say anything about it.

  6. drprice2 says:

    I wouldn’t have made some of Elliot’s rhetorical choices, but I read them as an effort to use humour to parry despair. Did and do that myself. Obviously, mileage is going to vary *a whole lot* on that one.

  7. drprice2 says:

    From my preliminary read, I’m not getting the sense from the Pope that he’s necessarily a big fan of statist solutions. Or, at least, he’s aware of the kleptocratic pitfalls of the same, having witnessed the multiple frauds of the Kirchner government–especially with respect to how it handled inflation.

    He’s used a couple of rhetorical choices along those lines that caught my attention, but I don’t have them to hand.

  8. I think I might have in mind some similar turns of phrase that you might mean, but they’re also not at hand.

  9. I truly appreciate your candor, I will keep trying to work on my tone! I am curious, though, if you have read the precise sense in which I use the term “Our Francis of the Interviews” or even “Pope Guido.”

  10. Branch says:

    No, I haven’t. I do not mean to be presumptuous in the remarks I made and I appreciate your writing quite a bit, being of nearly a like mind as you on much of what the Pope has said.

    The expression, and some others, such as “Honey Badger Pope” struck me as condescending and a bit cutesy. I don’t think you need that tone to make your point.

  11. But see, the “Honey Badger Pope” was a meme that I saw break out within days of Bergoglio’s election. I think I can remember the very person who coined it, too (in a Facebook conversation), and she’s a very committed convert to the Faith. I didn’t make it up and I’ve never heard it used in a derogatory manner. I realize that I might enjoy pop culture “memes” a little too much, and that they come across as snide, but they are meant to be poetic, not malicious. I’ll keep working on my tone, since, as Pope Francis is learning, it matters! 🙂

  12. Pingback: The ball is still in play… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam," etiam sub patrocinio S. Ignatii Loyolae et Francisci Salesii. C.S.S.M.L. + N.D.S.M.D. + V.R.S. N.S.M.V. S.M.Q.L. I.V.B.

  13. Pingback: An open letter to those on the ledge… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam"

  14. Pingback: What a Christmas gift! | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam"

  15. Pingback: Extra communitatem nulla salvatione? | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

Be kind, be (relatively) brief, be clear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s