The very sight of life hooked by fisherfolk…

I don’t know what it means to concelebrate a Mass in public with a confirmed dissident priest, nor why raising alarm at such a spectacle merits being keelhauled by fishers, but I believe the following words of papal counsel are more timely than ever.* I am as challenged by the pope here as I hope all sensible Catholics allow themselves to be.

7. … Never perhaps was there more talking about the brotherhood of men than there is today; in fact, men do not hesitate to proclaim that striving after brotherhood is one of the greatest gifts of modern civilization, ignoring the teaching of the Gospel, and setting aside the work of Christ and of His Church. But in reality never was there less brotherly activity amongst men than at the present moment. …

19. … Over and above those luminous proofs of the divine power and indefectibility enjoyed by the Church, We find a source of no small consolation in the remarkable fruits of the active foresight of our Predecessor, Pope Pius X, who shed upon the Apostolic Chair the lustre of a most holy life. For We see as a result of his efforts a revival of religious spirit in the clergy throughout the whole world; the piety of the Christian people revived; activity and discipline stimulated in Catholic associations; the foundation and increase of episcopal sees; provision made for the education of ecclesiastical students in harmony with the canonical requirements and in so far as necessary with the needs of the times; the saving of the teaching of sacred science from the dangers of rash innovations; musical art brought to minister worthily to the dignity of sacred functions; the Faith spread far and wide by new missions of heralds of the Gospel.

20. Well, indeed, has Our Predecessor merited of the Church, and grateful posterity will preserve the memory of his deeds. As, however, by God’s permission, the field of “the good man of the house” is ever exposed to the evil practices of “the enemy,” it will never come to pass that no work will be necessary to prevent the growth of “the cockle” from damaging the good harvest; and applying to ourselves God’s words to the prophet: “Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to pull down . . . to build and to plant” (Jerem. i. 10), it will be Our constant and strenuous endeavour, as far as it is in Our power, to prevent evil of every kind and to promote whatever is good, until it shall please the Prince of Pastors to demand an account of Our discharge of Our office.

22. The success of every society of men, for whatever purpose it is formed, is bound up with the harmony of the members in the interests of the common cause. Hence We must devote Our earnest endeavours to appease dissension and strife, of whatever character, amongst Catholics, and to prevent new dissensions arising, so that there may be unity of ideas and of action amongst all. The enemies of God and of the Church are perfectly well aware that any internal quarrel amongst Catholics is a real victory for them. Hence it is their usual practice when they see Catholics strongly united, to endeavour by cleverly sowing the seeds of discord, to break up that union. And would that the result had not frequently justified their hopes, to the great detriment of the interests of religion! Hence, therefore, whenever legitimate authority has once given a clear command, let no one transgress that command, because it does not happen to commend itself to him; but let each one subject his own opinion to the authority of him who is his superior, and obey him as a matter of conscience. Again, let no private individual, whether in books or in the press, or in public speeches, take upon himself the position of an authoritative teacher in the Church. All know to whom the teaching authority of the Church has been given by God: he, then, possesses a perfect right to speak as he wishes and when he thinks it opportune. The duty of others is to hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

23. As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline – in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See – there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

24. It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

25. Besides, the Church demands from those who have devoted themselves to furthering her interests, something very different from the dwelling upon profitless questions; she demands that they should devote the whole of their energy to preserve the faith intact and unsullied by any breath of error, and follow most closely him whom Christ has appointed to be the guardian and interpreter of the truth. There are to be found today, and in no small numbers, men, of whom the Apostle says that: “having itching ears, they will not endure sound doctrine: but according to their own desires they will heap up to themselves teachers, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables” (II Tim. iv. 34). Infatuated and carried away by a lofty idea of the human intellect, by which God’s good gift has certainly made incredible progress in the study of nature, confident in their own judgment, and contemptuous of the authority of the Church, they have reached such a degree of rashness as not to hesitate to measure by the standard of their own mind even the hidden things of God and all that God has revealed to men. Hence arose the monstrous errors of “Modernism,” which Our Predecessor rightly declared to be “the synthesis of all heresies,” and solemnly condemned. We hereby renew that condemnation in all its fulness, Venerable Brethren, and as the plague is not yet entirely stamped out, but lurks here and there in hidden places, We exhort all to be carefully on their guard against any contagion of the evil, to which we may apply the words Job used in other circumstances: “It is a fire that devoureth even to destruction, and rooteth up all things that spring” (Job xxxi. 12). Nor do We merely desire that Catholics should shrink from the errors of Modernism, but also from the tendencies or what is called the spirit of Modernism. Those who are infected by that spirit develop a keen dislike for all that savours of antiquity and become eager searchers after novelties in everything: in the way in which they carry out religious functions, in the ruling of Catholic institutions, and even in private exercises of piety. Therefore it is Our will that the law of our forefathers should still be held sacred: “Let there be no innovation; keep to what has been handed down.” In matters of faith that must be inviolably adhered to as the law; it may however also serve as a guide even in matters subject to change, but even in such cases the rule would hold: “Old things, but in a new way.” …

28. … The spirit of insubordination and independence, so characteristic of our times, has, as We deplored above, not entirely spared the ministers of the Sanctuary. It is not rare for pastors of the Church to find sorrow and contradiction where they had a right to look for comfort and help. Let those who have so unfortunately failed in their duty, recall to their minds again and again, that the authority of those whom “the Holy Spirit hath placed as Bishops to rule the Church of God” (Acts xx. 28) is a divine authority. Let them remember that if, as we have seen, those who resist any legitimate authority, resist God, much more impiously do they act who refuse to obey the Bishop, whom God has consecrated with a special character by the exercise of His power.

— Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, 1 November 1914.

* HT to ABS, yet again

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.
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21 Responses to The very sight of life hooked by fisherfolk…

  1. Tony Jokin says:

    Hey, maybe the new plan is to (Love Bomb) the worlds population 🙂

    I wonder how that squares with Dignitatis Humanae 😀

  2. Branch says:

    Bullseye: “let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.”

  3. Thanks for the H/T, BC.

    I see the Sensitivity Sheriff has tacked-up the wanted posters in the universal post office and the pathos posse has assembled to ride-out after the blackguards who are always ruining the church.

    What does liberalism look like?

    It looks like this – badgering a beleaguered laity which has no power or authority while turning a blind eye and deaf ear towards the public and preposterous praxis of those who do have power and authority.

    These very self-same sensitive saints in the saddles of the pathos posse began shrieking like Banshees on Jagermeister when Rorate Caeli quoted a man who (after a diligent dirt-digging search into the man’s background that was not even within a galactic distance of having anything to do with what his quote was addressing, had his reputation blackened) made accurate observations of what Bishop Bergolio did and did not do vis a vis the Real Mass in his Diocese and yet they presume to have some moral authority to tell others what is and isn’t acceptable.

    PFFFFT !!!

    The only time i ever see the dust kicked-up by the pathos posse is when some link to their stink is provided; I mean,who in their right mind wants to read that Fluff written by those nutters?

  4. Tony Jokin says:

    Well, that entire paragraph is referring to things not pertaining to any harm to faith and discipline though, no? I thought those were things like “which hockey team is better?”, “BMW vs. Audi” etc. 😀

    I guess it is also worth asking, does the possession of teaching authority mean that the Church will always take the best possible course of action to teach it? If that is a truism, I think then we must simply abandon this idea of “traditionalism” and insisting on traditions because it is obviously contrary to will of the prelates in the Church including that of the Supreme Pontiff…..

  5. Branch says:

    Tony, I am not following your first point.
    As for the second, by “teaching authority,” do we mean only the Pope or bishops and cardinals too? What of the situation when it’s Cardinal X against Cardinal Y?

    And then what of the will of the prelates from different eras in the Church? Is everything simply provisional and subject to change, decided by the will of the prelates of the time? I’ve seen it articulated that for some Catholics today, to throw out little-t traditions is alright as they are simply man-made. Yet, those small-t traditions have always served big-T Tradition and quite well at that.

    I am not for labels at all (traditionalist, neo-Catholic, liberal, conservative, whatever), and I was glad to see a Pope articulate the same point!

  6. Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. [10] If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you.

    Eusebius Church History Book 3

    Chapter 28. Cerinthus the Heresiarch.

    6. … But Irenæus, in the first book of his work Against Heresies, gives some more abominable false doctrines of the same man, and in the third book relates a story which deserves to be recorded. He says, on the authority of Polycarp, that the apostle John once entered a bath to bathe; but, learning that Cerinthus was within, he sprang from the place and rushed out of the door, for he could not bear to remain under the same roof with him. And he advised those that were with him to do the same, saying, “Let us flee, lest the bath fall; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”

    end of quotes.

    I am flummoxed as to what instruction I am to derive from the words posted at Abbey Roads.

    The Early Church Fathers received their Doctrines from the Apostles who received their Doctrines from Jesus who is the fullness of Divine Revelation who received all that He had from the Father and the praxis of The Apostles derived directly from their Doctrines and so I consider what Saint John did to be valid for all time although such masculinity is scandalous and insensitive in today’s execrable ecclesiastical epoch of practical indifferentism.

    The problem of this concelebration is that it leaves many flummoxed, at best. Was the concelebration that which followed the metanoia of a justly infamous cleric who has repudiated his grave evil, repented of it, amended his life, and done penance?

    If it was, then we would know about it for such grave public evil requires public repentance, right?

    And this is not a question of anyone judging the state of another’s soul. This is a matter of the public actions of another; and that can be judged.

  7. Branch says:

    You certainly aren’t alone in your confusion.

  8. drprice2 says:

    I’m sure Terry Nelson is a decent guy in person, but I find his writing to be twee and cloying.

    Yeah, I know–I hate holiness.

    And puppies.

  9. Tony Jokin says:

    About the first point, I was just trying to say that Paragraph 23 wasn’t speaking of matters on faith and discipline. So it would seem that one can divisively state that those who do not follow or respect a certain tradition are being disloyal to the faith as long as that said tradition is important for preserving the faith and discipline.

    On the second point, what I was asking was with respect to Paragraph 22. It seems to indicate that the Pope would be able to engage in certain actions and say things and that we do not have a right to disobey him. So if the Pope says that we should refrain from trying to convert Jews to Catholicism, it would seem like “oh, I don’t get why, but I must obey him”. So the answer to all the questions you asked is that we should simply follow at any given time what the Pope says and does. My question is, is that actually true? Paragraph 22 seems to that though.

    Now I can see traditionalist state that Paragraph 22 speaks of clear commands and we are just lacking a clear command today. But I think that is just being dishonest. Truth is, the commands are pretty clear today. What is not clear is how such commands can be reconciled with what has been commanded and held before. It would seem that our lack of understanding on how to reconcile such a seeming contradiction is irrelevant and our duty is to “hearken to him reverently when he speaks and to carry out what he says.

    Is that what Paragraph 22 is saying?

  10. Branch says:

    Why our author here drew attention to this portion he quoted from, I believe, is because there is no logical way to reconcile Paragraph 22 with the situation with Francis and the dissident priest : “let no private individual, whether in books or in the press, or in public speeches, take upon himself the position of an authoritative teacher in the Church.”

    It inevitably involves us in a contradiction not just in praxis, but in doctrine. If we have gotten to a point where faithful Catholics are seriously wondering if obeying the Pope means ‘tolerating’ divergent opinions on the morality of homosexuality then I think the matter is self-evident.

    Also, context. Benedict XV was clear by the time he gets to Para. 22 that what he wrote in Para. 20 is the basis, that “it will be Our constant and strenuous endeavour, as far as it is in Our power, to prevent evil of every kind and to promote whatever is good, until it shall please the Prince of Pastors to demand an account of Our discharge of Our office,” and then, in Para. 23, speaking regarding matters in which without harm to faith or discipline, by implication, we could not “obey” that which IS harmful to faith or discipline.

  11. The nub of the issue is that, if the pope were merely being “merciful” to a dissident, he was setting an example that lesser shepherds could be expected to follow, but obviously it would be repugnant to prudence and holiness for priests all over the world to concelebrate with dissidents and heretics.

    I also think Fisher’s article defending the kissing of hands is one of the most inane and specious articles I’ve read in a long time. St. Francis kissed the immoral priest’s hands outside of a Mass, and it defies all we know about him that he would have blithely concelebrated THE MOST HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS with a public reprobate. More than that, though, there is a crucial difference between the status of an immoral and a heretical cleric. The former may be a source of scandal, but the latter is excommunicate, and so not even subject to the rights of liturgical worship.

    On top of all this, the wave of hand-kissing by the pope trivializes the entire point of the story about St. Francis. That saint kissed those hands because they were uniquely sanctified by and for the sacramental ministry of the Church, whatever the priest’s personal defects may have been. In contrast, the hands of secular leaders and non-Catholic religious figures are profane, and not worthy of the same respect, which is precisely the point St. Francis made (by modus tollens, if you will). As things stand, phenomenologically, the hands of the pope are on a par with those of a rebel priest and non-Catholic worldlings. This is typical liberal leveling, and to invoke St. Francis in defense of such silliness is to make a mockery of the saint who displayed unflinching respect for the pope, not as a nice fella, but as the royal steward of the Kingdom of God.

  12. Tony Jokin says:

    I am just playing devils advocate here (I am leaning toward traditional Catholicism as you may already know).

    Doesn’t Paragraph 23 simply state that the determination of whether or not a certain act or saying is harmful is done by the superior? So I am not referring here to intrinsically immoral acts but acts which could be said to contribute or advocate such acts. This could be the concelebration. Or speaking ambiguously in interviews, advocating trying to get along over trying to convert etc. For an example, a Cardinal may agree that homosexual activity is wrong but disagree that praising such couples without pointing out their immorality is a bad thing.

    It would seem that Paragraph 23 requires that we simply agree with the Cardinal/Pope in such a case. Doesn’t it?

  13. Tony Jokin says:

    Codg, I agree with you 100%.

    But what I am trying to understand is Paragraph 23 in your post. It seems like Paragraph 23 seems to state that the course of action to take at the end of the day is entirely the Pope’s and he must be free of criticism. So while it is clear to you and me that what he is doing is outright imprudent and confusing, the Pope it seems can decide that it is the way to go and expect to be free of criticism.

    Is that not what Paragraph 23 is saying?

  14. Sorry, all, I decided to get rid of nested comments.

  15. Tony Jokin says:

    Nested comments were actually hard to read and follow so I like this new look 🙂

  16. Tony:

    I’m having trouble understanding your query about paragraph 23. Paragraph 22 seems like the real bitter pill. As I read it, the key to para. 23 is the opening clause about actions that are “without harm to faith or discipline”. Actions that do harm faith and ecclesial discipline are rejected out of hand by BXV; they are not things about which there is room for divergent opinion.

    Additionally, in para. 22, BXV is addressing the authority of the pope, or a legitimate superior, as a teacher, not necessarily as a moral role model. If the pope were to teach something new about the conditions for concelebration and the rights of heterodox clergy, then the Church would need to take heed (and I’d need to stock up on Maalox once again). As it stands, this is akin to the way Francis simply flouts standing Church law without bothering to revise or repeal it.

    Christ addressed this dichotomy in Matthew 23:

    “THEN Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, 2 Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. 3 All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens [such as scandals and confusions and erratic changes?], and lay them on men’s shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them. 5 And all their works they do for to be seen of men. For they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. 6 And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues, 7 And salutations in the market place, and to be called by men, Rabbi.”

    Now, to take your example about some prelate telling the faithful not to convert non-Catholics (esp. Jews), this would only be a binding teaching if it did not somehow contravene a principle of divine authority, which no man may flout. Seeing, however, as the Great Commission (Mt. 28), spoken by Christ Himself, exhorts us to baptize and catechize ALL NATIONS, and that the Spirit of conversion was sent for ALL FLESH, a hypothetical injunction to cease evangelizing is not even possibly binding. Granted, it is within the rights of a superior to suppress certain tactics or specific activities, but things get murky very quickly on that score, so I think it would be an injunction doomed to die the death of a thousand qualifications.

  17. Tony Jokin says:


    My bad, I actually meant to say Paragraph 22. Sorry about that.

    So doesn’t Paragraph 22 actually seem to say something like follow the lead of the Pope?

  18. Tony Jokin says:

    Thanks for clarifying Codg. You are right and that makes sense.

    Its just that this situation feels so surreal almost that I keep (wanting to) second guess myself to see if I am seeing things right you know. Things that seem outright diabolical like this concelebration are done with such sense of normalcy and praise by the Pope and some Cardinals. Soon they might even be canonized and raised to the altars.

    It is just so disheartening at times to see.

  19. Dear B.C. You nailed it in May 30, 2014 at 14:51.

    This is not the first time I have read you and thought; you know, he is putting into words what I instinctively know – but, as Tony rightly observes, one sees this weird stuff so often that one begins to think – It HAS to be me. I am too critical, self-righteous, a know-it-all, holier than the Pope yadda, yadda, etc

    Blessed be those who resist becoming inured to the insane and inane.

  20. Tony and ABS:

    I assure you that I know EXACTLY how you feel. In the fall of last year I almost literally thought I was losing my mind. It seemed obvious to me that something was rotten in Denmark, and yet the mollifying majority mewled and mewled that nothing was amiss. “I’m better now.”

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