Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Why I Call 'Em Krazies

Give up all this to be Pope???

OK.  Here is one of my favorite stories, courtesy of John Julius Norwich and his book Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (Random House Paperbacks, 2011).  Norwich is not the writer that Mattingly was when it comes to style, but if you want the ups and downs of the papacy between the covers of a single book he is your man. 

On September 5, 1159, the day after the body of Pope Hadrian had been laid to rest in St. Peter’s, about thirty cardinals assembled in conclave behind the high altar of the basilica.  Two days later, all but three of them had cast their votes for the former chancellor, Cardinal Roland of Siena, who was therefore declared to have been elected.  One of the three, however, was the violently pro-imperialist Cardinal Octavian of Santa Cecilia, and just as the scarlet mantle of the Papacy was brought forward and Roland, after the customary displays of reluctance, bent his head to receive it, Octavian dived at him, snatched the mantle, and tried to don it himself.  A scuffle followed, during which he lost it again; but his chaplain instantly produced another—presumably brought along for just such an eventuality—which Octavian this time managed to put on, unfortunately back to front, before anyone could stop him. 
There followed a scene of scarcely believable confusion.  Wrenching himself free from the furious supporters of Roland, who were trying to tear the mantle forcibly from his back, Octavian—whose frantic efforts to turn it the right way around had resulted only in getting the fringes tangled around his neck—made a dash for the papal throne, sat on it, and proclaimed himself Pope Victor IV.  He then charged off through St. Peter’s until he found a group of minor clergy, whom he ordered to give him their acclamation—which seeing the doors suddenly burst open and a band of armed cutthroats swarming into the basilica, they hastily did.  For the time being at least, the opposition was silenced; Roland and his adherents slipped out while they could and took refuge in St. Peter’s Tower, a fortified corner of the Vatican.  Meanwhile, with the cutthroats looking on, Octavian was enthroned a little more formally than on the previous occasion and escorted in triumph to the Lateran—having been at some pains, we are told, to adjust his dress before leaving. 

Sounds bizarre doesn’t it?  A Cardinal declaring himself to be Pope in place of the canonically elected one and seizing the papal insignia and running around St Peter’s getting people to recognize him as the legitimate pontiff!   Well look at one reader of Eponymous Flower, a krazy’s blog that attracts the even krazier:  

 It is time for his Eminence Cardinal Burke to take advantage of the wind of the Holy Ghost at his back and step up to the Throne of Peter.
He has the support to send this Pope into retirement and when he makes his move, more people will step up to support him.
He needs to create TWO retired "ex-popes". Send this one back to a comfortable retirement in Argentina with a one-way ticket.

What do they want Cardinal Burke to do?  Go and seat himself in Saint Peter’s Basilica and declare himself Pope like Victor IV?  Do they really think that the Catholic faithful are going to “step up to support him” over Pope Francis?  I know that “recreational” marijuana is now legal in several states but I think statements like the above take even more seriously mind-altering drugs to make someone that delusional.   What the krazies don’t realize because they become self-consciously fixated on one another like a bunch of adolescents engaged in a certain group sex-game, is that there is larger Church out there that is not only highly supportive of Pope Francis and his agenda but that the Catholic Church has long ago crossed the Rubicon into modernity and, to all appearances, the Holy Spirit has no intention of leading it back.  Less than 1% of the Church-going Catholics in this country show any interest in the pre-conciliar liturgy.  The rate is much lower through most of the rest of the world.  There is almost no interest in the old liturgy in Africa or Asia.  In our own parishes, over 90% of the faithful receive Holy Communion in their hands.  Most parishes administer Holy Communion in both kinds.  All but one diocese permit girls and women to serve at the altar and that one diocese and its bishop emeritus have been the punchline for more than one clerical joke.  Lay extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are ubiquitous and permit the sick and shut-ins to receive Holy Communion much more frequently.  There is still much work to be done to bring better quality to the liturgy, but thanks to musicians and professional liturgists in most parishes it gets better and better.  Ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue have slowed down in most places, but we are still far ahead of where we were before Vatican II and, in fact, most Catholics are comfortable in Protestant churches and most Protestants feel very welcome in Catholic churches. The Church’s commitment to social progress has been amazing and more and more Catholics see the connection between their faith and the political choices we are faced with in our society. In fact, the polls show that when it comes to social issues, Catholics are more progressive in their opinions than their Protestant neighbors. The krazies count a victory every time some bishop celebrates a “Pontifical High Mass” in the pre-conciliar rite but at the end of the day, toothpaste simply doesn’t go back in the tube and with Pope Francis it doesn’t appear that it ever will.  The days of The Bells of Saint Mary’s are over forever and even if he were inclined to the delusional fantasies of many of his admirers in the anti-Francis faction, Cardinal Burke wouldn’t want to be pope.  As a Cardinal he gets to wear that fur-trimmed 27 foot long silk cape; papal haberdashery is not nearly so camp.   


  1. While I agree wholeheartedly about the crystal-ball navel-gazing that goes on within the "traditionalist" community, there are in fact actual numbers about the interest of churchgoing Catholics in the old rite, the number being closer to 11%, rather than less than 1%. They are here:

  2. thanks for the link to CARA's research. I need to check with my friends at CARA to see how they read it. CARA is counting as their 11% those who say that if a TLM was conveniently available, they would attend. My stats reflect those who actually do attend the TLM. But I also realize that my stats reflect only those who attend authorized Latin Mass sites and not SSPX chapels or independent chapels. I hadn't thought about this, but it reflects bias on my part about the status of those who attend non-authorized TLMs and their status as Catholics. I particularly need to revise my attitude towards those who attend the SSPX because they acknowledge, at least in principle, papal authority. I have to admit that I struggle in acknowledging those who reject the Council as Catholics and I probably need to do a little more homework to find out exactly how the Holy See perceives them. But even including those who attend SSPX chapels I doubt the actual percentage goes above 3%. As for those who say that they would attend if a TLM mass were available, I only wonder if they would do so as a regular option for worship. A parish in the NYC suburbs, a parish I was at the time attending, sponsored a Latin Mass and drew a large crowd but it turned to be more a matter of curiosity and there was no interest in scheduling the TLM on a regular basis. One parish in the neighborhood has a TLM Sunday Mass and that seems to be all the population can sustain. I really need to look into this topic more deeply and do some postings. Personally I believe it was a huge mistake to revive the pre-conciliar liturgy but that, again, is my bias.

  3. Thanks for the clarification as to your point. I had read your "show any interest in the pre-conciliar liturgy" literally; but I certainly agree, the more important point is whether they, "show any sustained interest in the pre-conciliar liturgy."

    Ultimately, however, I think that tolerating the TLM openly and officially was the best possible move, as, if nothing else, it removes from so many the delusion that the Church fears them and is out to suppress them, which is highly contributive to a Messianic mindset. Notice that the widespread response in the tradosphere to Francis' changes has been to interpret them as direct, vindictive, and personal attacks.

    Also, it's worth remembering that there are more than a few Episcopalian parishes who indulge themselves in older forms of the Common Prayer book from time to time. I know that my own exposure to the TLM (in which I took an interest largely because of my budding interest in the Latin language when I was in high school) has left me feeling a much deeper connection with Catholics of the past, through shared experience with them, and I can now not only understand, but actually "feel" the liturgical movement from both of its poles, and sympathize to some extent with nearly everyone involved---sentiments that, I think, would be helpful in fostering greater cross-Catholic unity.

    I mean no disparagement when I say that I think people in your generation are somewhat spoiled in this respect, having had perhaps all the experience of the old liturgy that they ever could have wanted. Speaking as a millennial, I don't feel that it is really enough to hear from an old-timer about mumbled prayers and back-to-the-people. I think if liturgical reform is to represent genuine growth on the part of the Church, the Catholic has to be able to resolve in peace his doubts about the old rite by actually witnessing it within the Body under his bishop, and to know, once again in peace, that even though he does not do well to condemn his fellow Catholics for attending vernacular liturgy in the new rite, if he should find in the very different experience of Low Mass or High Mass an expression of his faith with which he is more comfortable, due to whatever temperamental quirks, that the Church will be there for him, just as it has been there for returning Anglicans, Orthodox, and the various other liturgical accommodations made in the past.

    I think the Good Shepherd would do this much for the 1% of the lost and confused sheep, even if the 99% have already come on board with the reforms.

  4. Do the Krazies want to have Cardinal Burke lead a repeat of the siege of Rome in 1525? It was that episode that made the Pope of the time very unwilling to grant Henry VIII an annulment of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, as the soldiers besieging Rome were those of Catherine's nephew Charles V.

  5. My bad, the Sack of Rome was in 1527, not 1525.

    1. I am glad you caught that I was going to let it pass but as long as you mentioned it I have written some entries on Charles, the sack, the annulment etc I actually think the negotions for the marriage of Margaret of Austria and Allesandro Medici played a bigger part in blocking the annulment than the sack in fact, I think the marriage between Charles' illegimate daughter and Clements purported illegitimate son showed that Clement was willing to let bygones be bygnones regarding the sack to advance his policy on restoring Medici control in Florence and Clement's anxiousness to see that policy come about is why he was determined to side iwth Charles on the annulment issue