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.