Into enemy territory…

It’s not often that I look at Papist blogs these days. Between work and other commitments I simply don’t have the time; and, in any case, to do so habitually would be like the Prodigal Son exchanging the fatted calf for the husks of swine. Occasionally I check Fr John Hunwicke’s blog but I’ve found that since he poped his erstwhile high standard has fallen, and I don’t care for his silly rhetoric about pope Francis. I see that to-day he is advocating schism (“I’m sure…the SSPX [sic] would happily make such provision as far as its ministry can reach,”) and calling an explicit papal teaching “heathen.” I never look at Crassus’ blog, that idol of American traditionalists whom I will not name, since he is excommunicated vitandus. And then there’s Raymond Blake. It’s ages since I looked at his blog. Heretofore I hadn’t noticed the photo in the header of an isolated pope but I’m sure it was chosen to make some point. In his latest post, entitled “DARE WE JOIN THE DOTS?“, Blake tacitly accuses pope Francis of being a paedophile by juxtaposing two images, one of a scantily-clad young man on his knees, and the other of two boys, with many a circumstantial charge. I wonder if Blake has seen this?

I first saw this in 2010. As a friend of mine remarked at the time, there can’t have been much liturgical orthopraxis going on in Rome so Ratzinger chose to pass the time with other activities instead. At any rate, as far as Francis is concerned, I’m inclined to believe that he is not a paedophile, even if he is corrupt; he’s too much of a thuggish bully. And if Blake is concerned that Bergoglio’s handing of abuse in Buenos Aires was wanting, what shall we say of his hero Ratzinger? This was a man so concerned about defending the reputation of the Papal Communion that he was completely incapable of the kind of self-criticism that might have saved him, and others more innocent, from many sins.

There are other bloggers too. Sean Finnegan doesn’t like Francis. The other Finigan doesn’t either but he seems to have gone quiet recently. So too has his female associate, a woman who takes the idolatry of clericalism to such an extreme that she would quit her job and move to another part of the country just to be his sacristan, and no doubt perform other services for him. For people who quite happily entertained the sodomites of the London Oratory this situation seems not a bit scandalous, especially given their shabby treatment of me in the past.

What all these people have in common is their loathing of pope Francis. The palmy days of Benedict XVI being long gone (and never coming back), they have no recourse. Their dear leader is the enemy! I’m sure some of them believe that the senescent prisoner of the Vatican is still the “true pope,” like one quasi-sedevacantist (another old queen) whom I knew at Covent Garden who wouldn’t accept Francis. I’m not sure how accepted Francis is among mainstream or left-leaning people. When I was in Knock some years ago I spoke to an elderly woman who liked neither Francis nor Benedict, but adored John Paul II and I thought at the time that was because he was around for so long, or knew how to smile for the camera. Who knows? It’s all idolatry to me and I can only dimly guess now what void the Papacy fills in the lives of people deprived, by birth or circumstance, of the Orthodox Christian Faith.

Nonetheless, Francis is a polarising figure. Churchmanship in the Papal Communion has almost come to resemble party politics. Who is orthodox? Who worships in the correct way? Who is going to hell? Does hell even exist? And both sides, whatever you like to call them; modernists vs traditionalists; liberals vs conservatives; or, more crudely, the saved and the damned; they’re all guilty of the same fundamental heresy. They all think that raw authority, or the Papacy, is the answer to all their problems. They all think that some high ecclesiastic is going to wave a magic wand and spirit away all of the heresies, all the corruption, all the revisionism, and then impose some utopian vision of the Roman communion on earth, and converts will come flocking. When Benedict XVI was pope, the traditionalists were in the ascendancy (or so they thought), and how smug they were! They witnessed his arbitrary revival of a few defunct bits of papal frippery, such as the camauro, and they almost anticipated the return of the Papal States! The fact that almost nothing changed at the parochial and diocesan level (apart from the imposition of an artificial and pretentious translation of the new missal) during Benedict’s time seems to have escaped their attention. And now that he’s gone (well, not quite), and his replacement is of different character, their resentful, spiteful, obsessive sniping is most unedifying! It’s so bogus and worldly. I’d be interested to know the cause of this idolatrous tendency to rely completely on authority. What happened to integrity? What happened to common sense? What happened to doing the right thing locally? There are interesting parallels with the Brexit/Trump vs EU/Clinton divide.

Of course, as an Orthodox Christian I have a more holistic view of church history. To me, traditionalists are no different to their Tablet-reading enemies. The great failure of Papal traditionalism is its inability to see beyond the 19th century, or for some the 1950’s. How can you expect a revival of piety when all you have to offer is a bastardised form, or caricature, of what went immediately before you? That what went before might already have become so attenuated and corrupt as to be irreconcilable with Christ’s ordinances is not a thought that even occurs to traditionalists. As for the other side, well; they’re just the keepers of the torch. They are part of the epic of progress and authority that started in the West way back in the mists of time when popes Gregory II and Sergius made their respective alterations to traditional praxis which have continued to the present day. I’m not in the business of placing blame anymore; nor do I have regrets about it. The Orthodox Church has maintained the purity of worship and belief, and we have no need of popes or bridge-builders or keepers of keys or other idols to finish the course and keep the faith. I suppose that if I do have a regret it’s that other, more intelligent persons could see this, and recant their Romish heresy.

4 thoughts on “Into enemy territory…

  1. “and no doubt perform other services for him”
    An ugly comment.

    “Churchmanship in the Papal Communion has almost come to resemble party politics.”
    Not only almost, but it really is party politics.

    “That what went before might already have become so attenuated and corrupt as to be irreconcilable with Christ’s ordinances is not a thought that even occurs to traditionalists. ”
    What do you have in mind here?

    “when popes Gregory II and Sergius made their respective alterations to traditional praxis which have continued to the present day.”
    What do you have in mind here?


    • Thank you for your comment, Marko.

      What’s “ugly” about my comment? I merely drew one of many conclusions from the weird situation. The fact that the person in question had already “followed” Tim Finigan to the Blackfen parish in 1997 (having met him at the “Faith Movement”), you might say, influenced my conclusion. Many years later, when, under dubious circumstances, Finigan is turned out of the parish in which he had caused so much division and hatred and sent elsewhither; what does she do? Does she wave him goodbye and wish him all the best, with a promise to stay in touch? Having found for herself a commodious little parish, close to home (albeit not in her parish), close to work, &c. in which she finds herself the queen bee, under the parish priest’s protection, you might think that a decent, normal thing to do. Of course not! This “consecrated virgin,” with a garland of sour grapes I always said, resigns her living, and moves all her stuff to the other side of the county, ostensibly to remain his sacristan. God only knows why. Perhaps she felt that, without the protected status she enjoyed under Finigan in Blackfen, she might be turned out herself by the other parishioners? Perhaps she felt that Finigan’s replacement in Blackfen would not much like having a bloated consecrated virgin hanging around like a bad smell and wouldn’t be good for the concord and goodwill of the parish? Perhaps she thinks that her services for Finigan (which included waiting in her car for two hours, with a bag of fish and chips, for Finigan to finish dining with his stammering friend at the Chislehurst Golf Club) are so indispensable that she just can’t leave him. Or there are any number of other political/theological reasons. Maybe Finigan is the only validly-ordained priest in the country, and it’s her solemn, esoteric duty to “follow him” in a ghastly parody of Christ’s ordinance. Perhaps, as a “consecrated virgin,” she has a fantasy vision of herself as the bride of a celibate priest. Or maybe they’re just friends and there’s absolutely nothing sinister or untoward about it. Even so, if you found the insinuation “ugly,” well all I can say is that in this corrupt world, and especially in the corrupt Papal Communion, if people choose to carry on in this bizarre way, then they leave themselves open to this kind of ridicule.

      As for the “party politics” of the Papal Communion, who is winning?

      For an Orthodox Christian, looking at the history of Western Christianity from the beginning of the second millennium (with the seeds sown much earlier), it seems to me that it is characterised by a series of attenuations; a continual turning away from the fullness of the Church as something to be avoided. There’s the “Roman” obsession, Rome is the centre, everything proceeds from Rome, &c. And then there’s the fissiparous nature of the religious orders, each competing with one another, each with a unique charism. The only conclusion you can draw from that is that the Benedictine monks weren’t doing a very good job in the first place. Contemporaneous with all this were the academic debates at Paris and Bologna about the moment of consecration, and the cult of the reserved sacrament, the evolution of canon law as opposed to the sacred canons; all the stuff about “validity,” &c. This stuff is the subject of a thesis and way beyond me but whenever I look at the institution of the Papal Communion, with its bastardised rites and bogus sacraments, I just see a withered, shrunken creature. If individual Roman Catholics are pious it is despite the authoritarian communion to which they unhappily belong, and not because of it. And I feel sorry for them.

      The comment about popes Gregory II and Sergius refer to the reversal of hitherto universal liturgical praxis in the 8th century when Sergius added the Agnus Dei to the ordinary of the Roman Mass (to snub the canons of the Quinisext Synod), and Gregory II abolished the Lenten aliturgical days. The abolition of the aliturgical days, when a previous Bishop of Rome had forbidden the celebration of Mass on certain Lenten days, set a bad precedent in my view which later Bishops of Rome were to emulate to our peril.


      • It’s rash judgement. It is sinful and thus, ugly. If someone is truly ridiculous, let him bear his ridicule before God, and if that ridiculousness is for condemnation, let God condemn them.

        As for party politics in Rome, i guess “Franciscans” are winning…

        I see.
        As for aliturgical days in the Lent. Why do you think it was wrong to abolish them, besides the fact that the abolition was a novelty?


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