Saturday, 28 March 2015

On Opposition to the Death Penalty, Pope Francis and Catholic Tradition

The recent pronouncements by Pope Francis and certain bishops of the Catholic Church on ending capital punishment have far more reaching consequences than a particular condemnation of a singular practice. I would argue that their words, fully of fallacy and intellectually devoid, touch on the very interpretation of the fundamentals of revelation.

 It is not for a pope to ascertain whether a teaching, held always and everywhere, to be in conformity with his understanding of some more ''fundamental Christian approach'' to human life. A I have stated before, the Supreme Pontiff is the most bound of the servants of God. He is to present the Faith of Peter, the Faith of the ages to the Christian body, whole and entire, without wavering. His salvation ultimately depends on his obedience to the Apostolic doctrine, always and everywhere the same, as revealed by our Lord and the Holy Ghost. It is a given from heaven. Where the pope attempts to put his own stamp on the Faith, creating a legacy for himself, he errs far from his predecessors. How few times has Francis quoted the Fathers, the Doctors, the General Councils and the popes before 1962 in his neutered evangelisation? All appears new and yet already cliched, His disregard for the sacred liturgy demands that we ask whether the Church was a creation of a human mind or formed from the open wound of Christ? His conjuring up of a Christianity embarrassed by the past undermines his own authority. What is the Petrine office other than the fidelity of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles to the revelation of the uniqueness and necessity of Christ and His sacrifice?

 The Faith is essentially objective and need not be interpreted anew by the current occupant of the throne of Peter according to the ''demands'' of an age so transient even to be remembered by its own generation. It is faithful adherence to the revelation granted to the apostles that gives the Supreme Pontiff his glory. May Constantinople flee, may Antioch crumble, may Alexandria whither! May Old Rome remain steady in its course to eternity.  May the pope wear what he is meant to wear, say what he is meant to say. May he live and may he die. May another take his place. Viva il Papa! The continuity of the papacy is guaranteed by the promise of Christ and not due to the adapting of the Body of Christ to the whims and dictates of the many mediocre men who have been permitted by our Lord to bear the name of pope.

 How dangerous is it for a Catholic to be held in the obedience of faith to the opinion of a man who will soon disintegrate in the ground? On the issue of the death penalty is the faithful Catholic to regard the Catechism of Trent to be polluted with the promotion of institutionalised murder? Is he to hold that Pope St Pius V was less of a pontiff than Francis? This amnesia of the past, particularly when it is welded blindly to the notion of the unquestionable obedience to the magisterium, undermines itself fatally. Are we to blast the Doctor of the Gentiles, St Paul, was writing that the state has the power to punish with the sword evil doers, as God's ministers? Are we to deride Innocent I? Or Innocent III? Perhaps more recently, denounce Pius XII? Not to mention, Ss Augustine and Thomas? In effect, is the ordinary and universal (that is, the infallible) magisterium in error? If so, any teaching of it on submission to the bishop of Rome may be in error too.

 In summation, Francis has no more authority to condemn the death penalty in principle than he has to regurgitate monothelitism. Far from the Christian mind be the love of novelty, the love of the crowd, the praise of the various sort of Guardianistas. Francis may be popular but are we to forget the acclaim in the presence of our Lord was simply ''Crucify him!''?

 This senseless experiment in reinventing Catholicism since the 1962s has cost the Church the perennial understanding of herself, and still in many ways, the sneer of the princes of this age. All updating has been in vain and even the most third rate sociologist considering the objective data can conclude that the human element of the Church has committed suicide.

 The solution is fidelity to Tradition. A love of the Faith of the ages and the Mass of the ages. 

1 comment:

  1. This was excellent. Loved your final paragraph and sentence.
    I shared this on Facebook. God bless!