|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.