Cardinal Bertone: Parting Comments

CNS carries the story of the exit of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has been the Vatican secretary of state. What struck me about his speech was his stress on the continuity between the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and its continuity with that of Pope Francis.
"What stirred our passion with Pope Benedict XVI was to see the church understand itself deeply as a communion, and at the same time speak to the world, to the heart and to the intelligence of all with clarity of doctrine and a high level of thought," the Cardinal said.
The retired pope "suffered greatly on account of the ills that plagued the church, and for this reason he gave her new legislation in order to strike out decisively the shameful phenomenon of pedophilia among the clergy, without forgetting the initiation of new rules in economic and administrative matters," he said.
"I see today in Pope Francis not so much a revolution but a continuity with Pope Benedict XVI even with their differences in style and personal life," the Cardinal said, noting in particular the strong devotion to Mary -- and particularly Our Lady of Fatima -- that he said united the two pontiffs.
This seems to reveal that Rome is in fact aware of the controversy surrounding the new Pope's style and is at pains to demonstrate the continuity.

It has been amusing to read the SSPX reaction to Pope Francis, which, for me, does nothing but confirm the danger of their schismatic position and the hubris of those who would dictate to Rome.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joseph Shaw has written a five part article on the Holy Father's remark that Ignatius of Loyola was a 'mystical not aesetic', wherein he makes the point that Traditional Catholics (that is those who hold on to the practice which has been handed to us by tradition in organic development) have much less to fear from the Pope than Neo-Conservatives and Liberals. Dr. Shaw explains Traditional Catholicism as being open to many of the things the Holy Father seems to favour, such as pluralism, de-centralisation, a loathing of ultramontanism, of papal or legal positivism.

What this means is, as James Preece pointed out in a particularly well written blog yesterday:
When Benedict was Pope it was impossible to tell which bloggers were thinking "I agree with Benedict because he's awesome but I understand that a lot of this is not magisterial teaching and I don't have to agree with it" and who was thinking "I agree with Benedict because he's awesome and it's a good thing too because I have to agree with everything the Pope says".
Now the tide has gone out and we've got Pope Francis and I don't have too big a problem with Pope Francis because, well "a lot of this is not magisterial teaching and I don't have to agree with it" but some people have a huge problem because they think they have to agree with everything the Pope says and they are in trouble because they don't.
Now the tide has gone out, I find myself looking around the beach and do you know who has their clothes on? Traditionalists.


  1. Hi Mark,
    Could you unpack a bit the phrase "that is those who hold on to the practice which has been handed to us by tradition in organic development"?

  2. CCC 11 describes the Catechism; the teaching of the Church, as an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. The job of the Pope is to safeguard the faith as deposited by Jesus and the Apostles. This faith--this objective reality--does not change; our faith is Apostolic in nature (cf. the Creed), but it does develop organically, as we come to apply the principles to new scenarios.

    As Dr. Joseph Shaw explains, one common misconception is that Traditionalism fits onto the same linear scale as 'liberal' and '(neo-)conservative', at the extreme end: that is, they are just conservatives on speed. Something which cannot be emphasised too much is that when Neo-Conservative Catholics become Traditional Catholics - and most trads were conservatives once - they give up two positions which are crucial to the standard 'conservative Catholic' offering: Legal Positivism and Ultramontanism.

    Neo-Conservatives might deny that they really hold these positions, but a strong tendency in these directions is absolutely necessary to the Neo-Con project. They accept whatever has just been enacted by the Church as the most authoritative statement on any subject, regardless of the weight of earlier laws, or considerations such as Natural Justice and custom. And they place enormous emphasis on the person of the Pope, seeking at all costs to endorse and live by even their non-magisterial statements and philosophical preferences. Pope Paul was a follower of Maritain? Let's all follow Maritain! Bl John Paul II was a Phenomenologist by training? Let's all be Phenomenologists! Pope Benedict likes St Augustine and Scotus? You get the idea.

    I recommend you read the rest of his post for a fuller understanding.


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