The Care And Feeding Of Traditionalists
There have been some subtle changes to the trajectory of Pope Francis' papacy that help me breathe a little easier.
After two breathless months of interviews, reactions, counter-reactions, joy, hand-wringing, and media-hype it seems that the Pope is trying to steer his papacy to calmer waters.
The Pope has taken a number of steps lately that assure me that he takes seriously his responsibility to safeguard Tradition.
First, he has taken steps to correct some of the mistaken impressions that arose from his interviews. The Pope has removed the Scalfari interview from the Vatican website. Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi said, "It was removed to clarify the nature of that text. There were some misunderstandings and disagreements about its value." This statement obviously echoes the expressed sentiments of some traditional Catholics at the time.
Additionally, the Pope wrote to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, a critic of the Bologna school which views the Second Vatican Council as a break from what came before, saying in part,
"You have demonstrated this love [of the Church] in many ways, including by correcting an error or imprecision on my part - and for this I thank you from my heart - but above all it has been manifested in all its purity in your studies of Vatican Council II. I have said this to you once, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and I want to repeat it today, that I consider you the best hermeneut of Vatican Council II."
In essence, this is as close to a full-throated endorsement of Pope Benedict's Hermeneutic of Continuity as you can get. While I never thought that Pope Francis to adhere to the Bologna school, it is clear that some of his comments regarding the Council encouraged those who do hold that view. This statement is a dampener to their irrational exuberance.
And lastly, recently the Pope made one of his famous phone calls, this time to Mario Palmaro, the Italian traditional Catholic writer and journalist who recently got fired from Radio Maria because of a critical article. As reported by Rorate Caeli, Palmaro said
"I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together wih Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church. The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them." [These words] "comforted me greatly."
While some people received criticisms of the month of interviews with bitterness and vitriol, the Pope did not. That speaks very well of him.
So why is the Pope doing this?
First of all, he is the Pope and it is his job to protect the faith. He knows that. Also, I believe/hope that the Pope understands that traditionalists are not the enemy and that he is their Pope too. I think that the Pope realizes that traditionalists are just as much in need of care and feeding by their Papa as everyone else.
Lastly, I think the Pope knows he must heal the wounds and misconceptions of September/October if he is to successfully tackle the significant challenges he faces. I think the Pope should know that despite this past, we traditional types have his back and pray for his success.