The “People of God” and the continued battle over Vatican II

Baptizing the Zeitgeist and calling it the Holy Spirit speaking through the People of God is not new. Quite the contrary.

Grand procession of the Council Fathers at St. Peter's Basilica at the opening of the Second Session of Vatican II in October 1962 (Image: Peter Geymayer/Wikipedia)

“The real problem with popes,” a friend once said to me, “is that they die.”

What he meant was that no matter how consequential a particular papacy might be, it is still at the mercy of the next pope, who might have a radically different ecclesial agenda and a whole different set of emphases, theological and pastoral. And given the fact that the memory is a faculty which both remembers and forgets, with the forgetting often leading to a creative “misremembering” (theologian Cyril O’Regan’s famous term) of the now past papacy, the door is left wide open for the revisionists to ply their trade in the interests of discrediting previous papacies in order to promote the agenda of the new guy in Rome.

This has not actually happened that often in the Church since popes usually like to preserve the dignity and respect owed to the Office of Peter by at least attempting to remain in continuity with the magisterial precedent of previous popes. There have been a few repudiations of previous popes by a later pope, but those were almost always the result of the previous pope being a theological idiot or a scoundrel. And Pope Francis, to his credit, is no exception as can be seen in his frequent statements of admiration for his immediate predecessors and for trying to place his own magisterial documents in continuity with theirs, however successful or unsuccessful he has been in that regard.

However, that is not the case with some of Pope Francis’s staunchest supporters, who seem intent on “misremembering” the previous two popes as being Vatican II obstructionists, despite one having been a bishop at the Council and the other an influential peritus. The narrative is that the Council set in motion reforms that Paul VI began, but which were then held back and even contradicted by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The accusation is that they represented transitional, almost tragic figures, with one foot in the present moment but the other foot still firmly planted in the past, and thus were willing to embrace some aspects of modern Liberalism like human rights and a democratic civil order, while, sadly, rejecting those same realities for the internal life of the Church herself. The narrative. therefore, is one of a “Council interrupted” by the recrudescence of a Romantic/poetic-rhapsodic triumphalism in John Paul and an Augustinian pessimism about the world in Benedict.

This narrative of misremembering has, it seems to me, two interrelated goals. First, the discrediting of the Communio/ressourcement theological retrieval of the Council through a systematic misrepresentation of its project as an allegedly ahistorical metaphysical form of theology devoid of pastoral sensitivity and riddled with a forensic, rule-based dogmatism. And insofar as Popes John Paul and Benedict were the chief proponents of this “rigid” theology, then so much the worse for them. Second, to establish that the progressive theological retrieval of the Council that had reigned supreme in the late sixties and into the early eighties was the proper one and should be retrieved again since we now seem to have a Pope who is willing (finally!) to implement the Council “properly”.

The proponents of the misremembering rarely put it so bluntly, speaking instead in the soothing dulcet tones of “development of doctrine”. But it is a smokescreen, although a rather diaphanous one, since it is not hard to see through its coded, progressive, dog-whistle words to the deeper agenda that is at stake.

Therefore, I think it is an urgent task for theologians of the ressourcement/Communio school, such as myself, to kick back against the misremembering of Vatican II and its interpretation in the previous two papacies. To that end, over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of essays on selected topics related to Vatican II which will take up a defense of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as well as the ressourcement theology they espoused.

And I am going to begin with the Council’s frequent use of the phrase “the People of God” as a description of the Church, and how this phrase has had its theological meaning hollowed out and replaced with a preponderantly sociological one by the progressive wing of the Church. For example, the indefatigable (at least on Twitter) progressive historian Massimo Faggioli has stated in his 2012 book Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning that at the Extraordinary synod of Bishops in 1985 Pope John Paul II had “revised” and “reinterpreted” the until then accepted meaning of Vatican II, causing the phrase “the People of God” to lose the “momentum” it had developed in the twenty years after the Council. Most interesting in this assertion is that Faggioli has done the heavy lifting for me by specifically identifying the interpretive milieu he wishes to privilege in interpreting the People of God image. And that milieu is the time of 1965-1985, with 1985 marking the terminal point of the conciliar reform “momentum” since through the Extraordinary Synod John Paul II allegedly put the kibosh on such noble ambitions.

But is this an accurate accounting of things? If we look at Henri de Lubac’s analysis of Lumen Gentium, we see that he agrees that the People of God image for the Church was both something novel in terms of recent Church usage, but also something one does find in the patristic sources. Used by the Fathers primarily to designate the people of the Old Covenant, the image does find a resonance in the desire of many Fathers, especially in the West, to nuance the “Body of Christ” image for the Church by making sure that there is a proper distinction between the Head (Christ) and the members, since the latter remain sinners and remain within time and history as pilgrim sojourners awaiting the Lord’s return. As de Lubac states in The Church: Paradox and Mystery: “There can be no doubt at all that viewing the Church as the People of God is implicit at the base of the dynamic, historical, ‘pilgrim’ perspective that was habitual to the Fathers”.

Furthermore, if we look at the preparatory schema for what later became Lumen Gentium, we see that it wanted to emphasize the “Body of Christ” motif in a manner, so typical of post-Tridentine Catholic theology, that emphasized the Divine origin of the Church to the relative exclusion of the human, historical, and sinful elements. The tone was both triumphalist and defensive, which is why a majority of the conciliar bishops rejected it. And their adoption, therefore, of the preferred People of God motif was deliberate and designed to emphasize, as with the Fathers, the “pilgrim” status of the Church in time and history. The Divine origin of the Church was affirmed, of course, but there was a stress on the human side of things as well. As de Lubac concludes, “The choice was to emphasize the human traits of the Church.”

There was a danger in this decision, as many conciliar bishops noted, that it could lead to a diminished respect for the Divine elements in the Church and an overemphasis, in a Protestant fashion, on the Church as a mere fellowship “assembly” of believers. And such fears were not unwarranted, as post-conciliar trends have demonstrated. Nevertheless, de Lubac is quick to point out that Lumen Gentium‘s chapter on the People of God (chapter two) comes before the chapter on the hierarchy—but after chapter one, which deals with the Church as a mystery and a sacrament. And that mystery is nothing other than the mystery of the Triune life of God in which the Church participates and of which she is the sacramental presence in the world.

Therefore, the Church as a “Communio” grounded in the Divine, Trinitarian Communio, is the foundation for the Church as the pilgrim People of God. Joseph Ratzinger makes this point forcefully:

We are People of God by virtue of the crucified and risen Body of Christ and in no other way. We become it only in living association with him, and only in this context does the expression have any meaning. The Council made this connection beautifully clear by highlighting another fundamental word for the Church along with the expression “People of God”: The Church as sacrament. One remains faithful to the Council only if one always reads these two central terms for its ecclesiology – sacrament and People of God – together and always thinks of them together. (Quoted in Michael Hanby, “Synodality, Sociologism, and the Judgment of History”, Communio, Winter 2021, p. 710)

In the aftermath of the Council, however, a vulgar and jejune redefinition of the People of God took place within the progressive theological guild that severed the connection between the Church as sacrament and the Church as People of God. It was replaced instead with purely sociological and historicist understandings of the Church as a kind of democratically constructed polity of “the people” with all of the anti-establishment connotations of the cultural mood of the Sixties and Seventies. The Church, no longer viewed primarily as the sacrament of Divine life, quickly degenerates in this view into a voluntary association of like-minded spiritual seekers.

The irony in all of this is that sociologistic understandings of the Church inevitably lead to bureaucratic understandings since now “sacramental office” is functionalized and the Eucharist itself takes on an aura of Pelagian hubris – perhaps one could say even a quasi “magical” hubris – since Jesus does not become present via the agency of a sacramental priesthood but rather somehow now miraculously coagulates on the plate out of the sheer force of our common bonds of fellowship solidarity.

The entire project was a flattening-out of the Church with an exaggerated horizontalism in a populist register, with the People of God metaphor used in a raised-fist defiance against the “institutional Church”. The mantra of “We are Church!” was used as a battering ram against any emphasis on the authority of the magisterium to teach, especially in matters of human sexuality. Which only goes to demonstrate, both then and now, that the elephant in the living room is sex and gender. I doubt anyone today, for example, would be talking about a Council “interrupted” if John Paul had given two papal thumbs up to contraception, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, LGBT “rights”, and women priests. And this would be true even if John Paul had done all of this in a heavy-handed, autocratic, “pyramidal” authority structure kind of way.

Anyone who lived through that period knows of which I speak. This is not a caricature or a straw man. It is how these people thought then and how they think now. Nor am I offering an apologia for a return to a triumphalist, clericalistic Church of the good ol’ days. What I want is the reformed Church as envisioned by Vatican II — the Church as envisioned by Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. And when in 1985 Pope John Paul II saw the same silly nonsense concerning the People of God motif that all the rest of us were also seeing, he rightly simply reminded one and all that the People of God only makes sense when embedded in the Communio of the Divine life and the Church as the sacrament of that life. But according to the current gaggle of “misrememberers” this constituted a grave violation of the “event” that was Vatican II, along with its “spirit”, its “dynamism”, and its “trajectory”.

And so this narrative of misremembering has gained steam of late and the message is that the “interrupted Council” can finally be implemented. The People of God are finally being heard in the synodal way “listening sessions” and in the questionnaires that have been sent out! Never mind that none of these things are following the proven scientific protocols for accurate poll taking, and never mind that the listening sessions will be attended by, and the questionnaires filled out by, self-selected activists of various sorts, the Holy Spirit will be discerned somehow by a few elite clerics reading through the episcopally curated and filtered results drawn from a Church of one and a half billion people scattered around the globe. And just as in the Sixties and Seventies it will suddenly be made known to us “from above” and “with authority” that most folks in the “People of God”, and by implication the Holy Spirit as well, think just like Archbishop Paglia. Go figure.

The mere fact that there are those in the Catholic academic guild today who are seriously pushing this narrative of the “interrupted Council” is troubling enough. But when you see those who are in positions of high authority in the Church parroting the same talking points, then you begin to sense that the game’s afoot. I will be paying careful attention to how the People of God image is employed in the synodal process and to whether it chooses to foreground some vague and gaseous notion of the Holy Spirit speaking through the popular opinions of the day, in some kind of neo-Montanist belief that God is “doing a new thing”, which isn’t new at all. Baptizing the Zeitgeist and calling it the Holy Spirit speaking through the People of God is not new. It is old. And it is tiresome.


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About Larry Chapp 26 Articles
Dr. Larry Chapp is a retired professor of theology. He taught for twenty years at DeSales University near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He now owns and manages, with his wife, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm in Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chapp received his doctorate from Fordham University in 1994 with a specialization in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He can be visited online at "Gaudium et Spes 22".

26 Comments

  1. The author writes: “The Church, no longer viewed primarily as the sacrament of Divine life, quickly degenerates in this view into a voluntary association of like-minded spiritual seekers.”

    Worse than this, when the Church as the Sacrament of Divine life is purposely denied, then we have what I refer to as the “Church of LCD” – otherwise known as the Church of the lowest common denominator. As such, it eventuates in a dismantling and ultimate destruction of the Divinely-ordered structure of reality. Look around: Isn’t that exactly what we see happening in Rome and among its sympathetic prelates at various posts around the globe?

  2. “There have been a few repudiations of previous popes by a later pope, but those were almost always the result of the previous pope being a theological idiot or a scoundrel. And Pope Francis, to his credit, is no exception as can be seen in his frequent statements of admiration for his immediate predecessors and for trying to place his own magisterial documents in continuity with theirs, however successful or unsuccessful he has been in that regard.”

    Oh, please, spare us the tired canard that it is the followers of “Pope Francis” but not the man himself who has abrogated and destroyed his predecessors’ magisterium. This narrative of normalization is not only objectively false but precisely what is meant by calling out such intellectually dishonest drivel as “fake news” and “propaganda”.

    Let’s get real and call things by their proper names: Bergoglio is the one responsible for “creating the mess”, not his sycophants.

  3. The “interrupted” Council was Vatican I (“suspended” [Pope Pius IX’s word] by the revolutionary occupation of Rome in 1870), not the follow-up Vatican II. The “real” Council Documents, not the “virtual” stuff of Kung, Kasper and the German-invented Katzenjammer Kids. But, why should today’s comic-theologians trouble themselves with actual history, when you can make things up?

    Instead, and recalling Cardinal Newman, the thing about Vatican I is not that a (precisely defined) doctrinal infallibility for the Deposit of Faith is a fantasy…but rather, the effect of this definition is “not to enfeeble the freedom or vigour of human thought in religious speculation, but to resist and control its extravagance” (Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Image, 1962, p. 329).

    In today’s misremembering of history, “enter stage Left” (so to speak) and its extravagance: “Baptizing the Zeitgeist and calling it the Holy Spirit speaking through the People of God is not new. It is old. And it is tiresome.”

    • Upon rereading, three points:
      First, “And insofar as Popes John Paul and Benedict were the chief proponents of this “rigid” theology, then so much the worse for them.” Was it possibly Stalin who said it this way: “if the theory doesn’t fit the facts, to bad for the facts”?
      Second, the Protestant notion of church is not “assembly,” but rather “congregation;” the Catholic Church inherits the fact of “assembly” from the Old Testament, and now is the Eucharistic assembly of the (sacramental) People of God, or communio.
      Third, the deception of synodality is to equate the “hierarchical communion” of the Church (Lumen Gentium, Ch. 3) with the laity’s “universal call to holiness.”

  4. “And Pope Francis, to his credit, is no exception” [Chapp] that is, no exception to admiration of prev pontiffs. I would add canonizing them. Although, isn’t that rather clever than magnanimous?
    Machiavelli advised the Prince to be magnanimous to his enemies [to disarm and confuse] here those whose doctrine are in opposition. Francis’ staunch supporters take liberty knowing Francis is a staunch Martini [Cardinal Carlo Maria] aficionado. Criticism leveled at the intransigent, rules obsessed. Pastorally insensitive Cordileone prime example. Although Chapp sees through the “diaphanous” smoke screen. Cutting through we arrive at the interpretation of the people of God.
    Herein [from this writer’s perspective] lies the theological premise stated early in Francis’ pontificate of the inverted pyramid Church. Whereas, proffered as his vision Francis exerts complete, even despotic authority. Again, from this writer’s perspective, the ruse of the People of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit is nothing less than the means to an end. First, repudiation of Christ’s institution of a hierarchal Church. Next. Ensoulment within the Church of his, Francis’ Church of Christ without Christ [borrowed from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood]. Flannery’s pastor of the new Church, similar to Francis’ Church ‘doing a new thing’, Hazel Motes, perceived the world’s ills [for Motes the rural South, Francis the entire planet] in Christ’s rigid dogma of rules.
    Chapp is kind by referring to Pope Francis’ intention as Baptizing the Zeitgeist. Although true, it suggests much more, for more devastatingly dramatic than questionable policy. It must be called for what it is by those invested with the authority of defenders of the faith.

      • For those in peril on the sea, erratic currents, Cape Horn turbulence, the Barque shipping water Son of Omri at the helm. Above, Master and Commander shrouded in cloud, quell he will as on Galilee Sea.

  5. Thank you, Dr. Chapp and CWR, for exposing the fact that this papacy is a conscious, concerted effort to undermine and/or supplant the truths taught for thousands of years by Jesus Christ and His Church.

    It is beyond dispute: Bergoglio is taking part in the left’s worldwide conspiracy to destroy all truth.

    That’s what “synodality” is all about. Substituting immutable, indisputable, unalterable truth with the evanescent, endlessly debatable chimera of polling data.

    Thus, “the people of God” follow satan’s lead by becoming replacements for God.

    Humanity is in desperate peril.

  6. “through a systematic misrepresentation of its project as an allegedly ahistorical metaphysical form of theology devoid of pastoral sensitivity and riddled with a forensic, rule-based dogmatism”

    A criticism once hurled at neo-scholasticism… some may see this as karma given the popular narrative re: Ressourcement’s objections to neo-scholasticism, but…

  7. There is something about the term “the People of God,” which seems to be woefully misunderstood by so many people. The expression does not come from the US Constitution, as in We the People,” but rather from the Old Testament, where the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the People of God. Under Moses, Aaron and Joshua, and later, under David and Solomon, they were a “pilgrim” People, but not leaderless, nor democratic. It was the “Minority Report” of Joshua and Caleb that was true, not the Majority Report.
    In spite of the commonly exaggerated misinterpretations of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council claimed the term “the People of God” for the Church, and not for the physical descendants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jesus denied that those who rejected him had Abraham for their father.
    Only those who follow Jesus are part of the People of God.

    • Yet, the word of God proclaims something else:

      Zechariah 8:13-15 And as you have been a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Fear not, but let your hands be strong.” For thus says the Lord of hosts: “As I purposed to bring disaster to you when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, so again have I purposed in these days to bring good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; fear not.

      Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

      Joel 2:13 And rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

      Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

      Israel is the true vine, we have been grafted in thru the mercy and grace of God.

      God bless you.

      • After Christ’s life, the term “people of God” refers to Christians, that is, the Catholic Church. See 1 Peter 2:9-10: “But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Who in time past were not a people: but are now the people of God. Who had not obtained mercy; but now have obtained mercy.”

        • Dear JDR:

          Jesus is King of the Jews. Will He abandon His ancient people Israel? Scripture tells us He has good plans for the Jews. It all takes place within the fullness of time.

          Isaiah 41:14 Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.

          Psalm 130:7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

          Jeremiah 50:34 Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.

          Isaiah 43:14 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sake I send to Babylon and bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.

          “After Christ’s life, the term “people of God” refers to Christians, that is, the Catholic Church”.

          A bold statement! Whereabouts in scripture do we find validation for such a far reaching motif?

          In Paul’s magnum opus to the Church in Rome, where does he make such a proclamation? Or to the six churches in the Roman provinces do we find this declaration? For something so important, why is there silence from Paul?

          Let God’s word bless and comfort all who love Him

          In Christ’s name,

          Brian Young

          • “For something so important, why is there silence from Paul?”

            Where did Saint Paul reveal the canon of the Bible? For something so important (in fact, essential to the Protestant, as the Bible is allegedly his sole rule of faith), why is there silence from Saint Paul?

            What difference does it make that Saint Paul is “silent” on any particular matter? He wrote only a portion of the Sacred Scripture, and other portions of the Bible contain many important things that Saint Paul is “silent” on.

            No one alleges that God has abandoned the Jewish people; it’s the other way around. Yet, the Bible tells us that the Jewish people will eventually become Christians, that is, accept the Catholic Faith and enter the Catholic Church, toward the end of the world.

  8. I often admire the bold thought of Larry Chapp. Here I wonder if an alien captured his body and typed this article where he credits Francis as respecting the work of his predecessors. When President Obama claimed his economic policy was the same as Reagan, sane people knew it was the cynical manipulation of the economically illiterate.

    The only difficulty in finding a way through the minefield of Francis speak is accepting his utter contempt for the idea of immutable truth, knowing that this implies his mind is also oblivious to, and probably too shallow to know, the reality of his atheistic preconceptions about most everything. His observers are not so obligated. His observers are obligated to resist and denounce.

    I have done work in both theoretical and applied physics where principles were defined in lengthy equations where errors occurred, and we had to do them over again to achieve coherence. But our errors were accidental.

    Errors in theology are never accidental. Theology always revolves around the gulf between man and God, which would not exist had it not been created by the original sin in the Garden of Eden, the only thing humanity has ever created. Without original sin, we’d still be in the Garden. Sin in the one and only problem in the world. Everything else is derivative. And there is only one philosophy, everything else is derivative. Either God is a fool or we are. Since it actually is the latter, it is for this reason that we fail to see that God did not, could not abandon us to a capricious understanding of how we ought to order our lives together. Innate and benevolent principles of right and wrong are transcendent to human culture. They are true not based on whether they are able to receive social sanctions of popular acceptance, intellectual movements, or whether they receive enshrinement in statutory law, but are true because they are inherent to the nature of being a decent human being.

    Vatican II got most everything right, but it created glaring omissions in places where it should have recognized the problem of original sin. Instead, it implicitly praised a spirit of secular utopian hope in progress. And this cancer created a license for theological corruption ever since. It left the Church extremely vulnerable to the adolescent notion of progress, something that does not and can not ever exist. Man can not outperform his God, which is what the adolescent notion of progress assumes. For progress to exist, God would have to have had to deprive the peoples of the past everything they needed to respond to His bridge of that gulf that separated them from eternity.

    Bad theology is never done by accident or innocently. It is always done with evil intentions no matter how much the Holy Spirit gets blamed for it. It is executed systematically to exonerate ourselves from the evil we do without remorse, to “rethink evil” to seem benign. The nauseating abuse of mercy redefined by Francis to mean guilt-free living, excluded from the traditionalists he ridicules, who desire a full sacramental life, denies mercy to the victims of evil. Repudiating absolute negative precepts of the natural law nourishes the culture of death.

    Our Holy Mother could not bear to look at the crowd of simple townspeople in Lourdes for their transparent sinfulness. Do we have a Pope who would care what injured her sensibilities even though her holiest life should endure no burdens of human iniquity? We should care regardless.

    • Dear Edward:

      Right on board until your last paragraph. How then do we reconnoiter the following verses and the churches position with regard to Mary, the blessed mother of Jesus? I ask in the spirit of friendship and the brotherhood of Jesus Christ.

      Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

      Luke 1:47 And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

      Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

      2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

      Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

      Your brother in Christ,

      Brian

      • The Blessed Virgin was conceived without sin, as Sacred Scripture attests. None of the verses above contradict that. Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned…”

        All what have sinned?

        All men? Not possible, as Christ is also man. All creatures? No, as the good angels have never sinned.

        So, what is meant by “all have sinned”? All what?

    • Thanks for the comment Edward. However, I think far too many people are misreading what I wrote as some kind of an attempt to deflect blame away from Pope Francis and onto his supporters instead. I have written often in the past, and quite bluntly, about what I think are the theological shortcomings and deviations of Pope Francis. The focus of this essay is slightly different. The focus here is on the narrative of the “interrupted Council” being put forward by this pope’s supporters, e.g. Faggioli. And the simple fact is, Pope Francis has said nothing that explicitly ties him to that narrative and he has made all of the proper nods of decorum to his predecessors, no matter how much his actual theology might be undermining their teachings.

      I have said before and often that in judging this papacy it is important to get beyond his words and to look instead at his actions, since his words and his actions often contradict each other. For example, in words he condemns the LGBTQ ideology, but in action he promotes James Martin and gives him smiling photo ops, AND he writes two private letters to Sister Grammick of New Ways Ministry telling her that she is doing God’s work. Therefore, I think it is also important to look at who he has promoted to high office and who his staunchest supporters are and what they are saying. I have dealt before with his various promotions (e.g. my essay on McElroy) and this time I am focusing on his supporters.

      And what you see is that his biggest allies are all now parroting this narrative of the interrupted Council as if they are all reading from the same sheet of pre-arranged talking points. I think that is important which is why I highlight it. I have written before on this pope’s theological mistakes. I have written before on his troublesome appointments. And now I write on the ideology of his supporters. I am slowly attempting to paint a picture of this papacy as deeply problematic across the board without sounding like an angry radical traditionalist. I share their negative appraisal of this papacy. But I do not share their broader ecclesiological/theological agenda. I am a ressourcement/Communio guy and it is from that vantage point that I deem this papacy lacking.

      Cheers!
      Larry

      • I apologize for misreading your intentions, in part caused by the fact that I am familiar with your fine essays and respect your willingness to be critical of this pontificate. I’m afraid I got carried away with my anger that the trajectory is catastrophic. A Martini like Pope does more than damage the faith of many. We certainly know discussing the faith is not like debating sports. It is a matter of life and death, and Francis’ contempt for Catholics who value their faith is not limited to his stubbornly warped thinking about motivations for traditional liturgy. A traditional respect for the Ten Commandments or taking other absolutes as those expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, which he has audaciously ridiculed, matter too. It is impossible to be “rigid” by having integrity, and it is scandalous that Cardinals do not call him out, to his face.

        The impetuous remarks of Francis do not reveal a sharp mind, and his mind is cognitively dissident enough to emote empathy for the real evil of abortion while, in other moods, perform an abstract calculous of global management concessions where he becomes oblivious to “population experts” who incorporate mandatory abortion into their schemes. What I tried to express, poorly, is that Francis, rather than a mere product of a planned “mafia of progressives,” is the logical culmination of the entire trajectory of an ecclesial moral entropy of a post war ecclesial culture that never learned a thing from how Christianity embarrassed itself during that war and never sought the authentic continuous commitment to moral reform, moral restitution, and public witness it is called by Christ to provide.
        God Bless your efforts.

        • PF is the ghost of Tielhard de Chardin.
          Beginning with George Tyrell the Jesuits have been corrupting the church for over 150 years.
          Who was it that gave the Kennedy family the Catholic formula for finessing the murder of babies in the womb? Jesuits. Who still plies that vicious lie today? Catholic, ( no need to doubt his sincerity B Barren) Joe Biden.

  9. 1 Cor. 3, St. Paul outlines that the Church is built up from the foundations. As I’m reading it I am seeing that he means it can not be undone; and who tries to do it will pay a price. There are 2 prices to be paid, one of purging and one of destruction.

  10. “Vatican II got most everything right, but it created glaring omissions in places where it should have recognized the problem of original sin.” This was indeed a glaring omission, and one still reverberating in the Church of I’m OK You’re OK Just Try to Knock Out Your Sacramental Duty and Don’t Judge.

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