Daily Archives: August 4, 2010

“Another Pope John XXIII”? The Futility of the Liberal Cargo Cult

Quick catch up first. There have been a couple of comments to the post about the NCP meeting that deserve highlighting. You will remember that at that meeting Bishop Robinson received popular acclaim for his conspiracy theory that “George Pell was transferred from Melbourne so he could get the red hat so he would become an elector of the pope… to ensure we do not have another Pope John XXIII”.

William Tighe has this to say on the liberal hope of a new “John Frum Bergamo”:

This idea of a friend of mine seems to characterize well enough the form of “Catholic dissent” that we have been seeing on this thread and elsewhere:


“It struck me that avant garde Catholics believe in a sort of Cargo Cult. Cargo Cult followers (or some of them) believe in a John Frum who will one day come to bring them all they want. John Frum stands for John Frum [From] America (believed to be derived from American missionaries or soldiers who introduced themselves as “John from America”). Leftist Catholics like … believe in John Frum Bergamo. John Frum Bergamo (John XXIII) was prevented (they think) only by death from bringing in married priests, women priests, homosexual marriage and so on. One day (they believe) another John Frum will come to give them all these things. It never occurs to them that the John XXIII of history was a fairly conventional figure in many ways, who certainly went no further than, say, Congar or de Lubac.”

To this, John Beeler, a newcomer to the the commentary table, aka “The Young Fogey” (see his blog here), added:

Brilliant! Been hearing such from them for years: ‘The next Pope will…’ Yes, such liberals believe in a far more powerful papacy than Pius IX did. The difference with Anglicans is while in Anglicanism everything is subject to change by majority vote, the Cargo Cultist Modernists believe in a sort of ultramontane caricature, a Santa Claus who can invent new doctrine with a wave of his hand and give them the liberal Protestant church they want.

Then there was the real John XXIII, a Italian naturally traditionalist at heart. The real J23: ‘Step up the teaching and use of Latin in seminaries. Religious orders, don’t ordain homosexuals.’ Oh, and he believed real Roman Catholic doctrine about papal power: ‘I can’t change that. I’m only the Pope.’ (Actual quote from Pius IX.)

John Frum Bergamo is as real as the Easter Bunny.

Well, all this reminded me of something I heard from one of my Lutheran Seminary lecturers many years ago (among whom there was, incidentally, an expert on the New Guinea Cargo Cult phenomenon, as he had been a seminary lecturer there for a number of years and had studied this). It was a story that was, apparently, told by Prof. Herman Sasse, and which, it seemed, stuck in the memory of the faculty at Luther Seminary. I searched for documentary evidence on the internet to back this story up, but discovered in fact that the source was the same: Sasse (it is here, if you want to find it, on page 147 footnote 31):

“During the First Session of the Second Vatican Council a lady turned up in Rome and asked for an audience with the pope to discuss with him the question of the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood. She was Dr. Gertrud Heinzelmann, a lawyer at Lucerne, the famous centre of the Roman Church in Switzerland. Pope John, who was otherwise kindness and patience personified, lost his patience. ‘Tell that suffragette that I shall never receive her. She should go back to her homeland.’ Why did the good pope, who was otherwise prepared for a dialog even with the worst enemies of the Church, give such a harsh answer? Could he not have replied something like this: ‘Tell my daughter that the ordination of women is against the Word of God’? This was his argument when the Archbishop of Canterbury declared such ordination to be against the tradition of the Church. Could he not have referred her for further information to one of his theologians? John was not an intellectual like his predecessor. He was not a great theologian either. But he was, as his ‘Journals’ show, a great pastor. Every pastor knows, or should know, that there are cases, when a discussion is impossible and the only answer to a question can be that ‘Begone, Satan!’ which Jesus spoke not only to the devil (Matthew 4.10), but also to his faithful confessor, Simon Peter (Matthew 16.23).” Sasse, “Ordination of Women”, in The Lutheran 5.9 (3 May 1971): 3.

Odd that that story is never told by anyone other than Sasse. One wonders where he heard it or what his source was. Was he, perhaps told about it by someone who was there? The fact is, however, that it has something of the ring of truth about it… A bit disappointing for the Cargo Cult, though, to have their bubble burst like that.



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Application to be made for TWO Anglican Ordinariates

HT to Joshua for alerting me to this. The recent Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (TAC) has passed the following resolutions:

That this National Synod endorses the action of its Archbishop and Bishops in requesting the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate in Australia under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, and that the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, in the words of the Apostolic Constitution, desires to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner, thereby achieving the status of an Anglican Ordinariate.

That this National Synod welcomes with joy the partnership of Forward in Faith Australia and all other Anglican clergy and people who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner through the Anglican Ordinariate in Australia.

That this National Synod strongly endorses the application of the Bishop of the Torres Strait to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for an Ordinariate of the Torres Strait.

That this National Synod requests the Primate to communicate to the Holy Father its gratitude for his Apostolic Constitution, ands warmly thanks him for his continued protection of faithful Anglicans and their tradition, and assures him of our prayers at every celebration of the Eucharist for his ministry of “caring for all the churches”.

So, I gather from this that both the Australian Province of the TAC and the Torres Strait Province are requesting each to be received AS “ordinariates”, and that the Australians are inviting the Forward in Faith folk who wish to be a part of the Ordinariate structure to join them.

Update: And note this from CNA: “Anglo-Catholic bishops try to rally supporters but foresee conversions to Rome”


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Your time begins…NOW: “In the name of the Father…”

Okay, let me say from the start that I know many of our priests are under pressure of time on Sunday mornings, and that there are a number of priests who have special indult to say more than the maximum 3 masses a Sunday in order to minister satisfactorily to their flocks. Especially if travel from one location to another is necessary between masses, this can put them under a lot of pressure.

Nevertheless… I recently had an experience where the celebrant expressed his desire that Sunday mass should take no longer than 45 minutes. In this circumstance the first casualty is singing the parts of the mass, which is often, though incorrectly, blamed for “making mass go too long”. The Gloria, Psalms and Gospel acclamation consequently must be said, not sung. The next is that entrance and recessional hymns get chopped down to one verse (or two at the most) of the hymn. I will say in his defence that the celebrant in question does not waffle in his sermons nor add unneccesary extraneous chat to the liturgy. Liturgical music and song is simply viewed as extraneous to what “must” happen, and is therefore seen as a hinderance in the achievement of the goal of a quick mass.

Blame it on my Lutheran background, but I don’t feel as if I have been to Church on Sunday and worshipped God if a) it takes less than an hour, b) we don’t get a chance to have a good sing.

Maybe I shouldn’t grumble. Afterall, at least we are getting Mass on Sunday. Lutherans had an even less satisfactory way of fitting in mutiple Sunday services – they left the Eucharist bit out and just had a service of the word.

Still, I was thinking of this when I came across these two pieces:

1) Fr McNamara at Zenit on “When the Liturgy of the Eucharist Is Fast”

2) Use more music. Singing all or part of the ordinary of the Mass such as the preface, the Sanctus, the consecration, the mystery of faith, the final doxology with its great Amen, the Our Father and its embolism, the Lamb of God, etc., adds to the sense of solemnity and underlines the importance of the Eucharistic rites.

2) Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture on The 11-minute Mass and the Book of Kells

During our vacation stay in Ireland, Leila and I took a short walk to the local parish church on a Saturday morning to attend Mass. The experience was a revelation.

The priest said all the prayers at such a breakneck speed that I could not make out the individual words. The congregation matched his pace with the responses. I could barely keep up the recitation of Lord’s Prayer. The readings were a blur. There was no homily. Mass was over in 11 minutes.

We tried the same parish again for Sunday Mass, but we had not read the bulletin carefully. We thought we were arriving 5 minutes before the designated time; actually we were 25 minutes late. Sunday Mass had already ended!


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Tim isn’t “quitting”

This story in The Australian is headlined “Pope envoy quits to ‘slow down'”. Come now, whoever you are who dreams up the headlines for such stories, the Hon. Mr Tim Fischer is hardly “quitting”. As the story itself puts it far more accurately, he is “not seek[ing] an extension to the job given to him by Kevin Rudd in 2008.” He had a clear term, and it was clear from the beginning that he saw this as a one term appointment. He has said “I want to return home and to my family farm and slow down,” and good on him too. Job well done, Tim! I just hope that whatever government is elected on August 21 recognises that you have demonstrated that maintaining a diplomatic post in Rome is a good idea and appoints a replacement when you return home.

There is a rather nice little story included in the Australian piece:

Mr Fischer said if the Pope’s reaction to Australian wine was an indicator, celebrations at the canonisation would be well attended. He said the Pope’s “poker face” was cracked by a gift of dessert wine from Mr Rudd last year.

“This great smile appeared across Pope Benedict’s face as he looked down on these beautifully packaged bottles of Australian dessert wine,” Mr Fischer said. “I’m told within 48 hours they weren’t to be found anywhere.”

I had been told that the Holy Father was not particularly fond of wine, but perhaps the fact is that he simply isn’t fond of Italian wine, and prefers the Australian drop. I can understand that. When we were travelling in Italy last year, we did not avoid the local drop (which is, at least, affordable), but it was a great relief to finally be served Australian wine at the reception held for us at Mr Fischer’s residence.

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My interview with Fr Mitch Pacwa at EWTN

Now that the new edition of Kairos which contains my interview with Fr Mitch has been published, I can post the full version here on my website on my “Other Stuff” page.

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