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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Benedict & Francis: Two Peas in a Papal Pod? Featured

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February 11, 2016 will mark the third anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s shocking declaration of his intention to abdicate on February 28, 2013.

What was behind that history-changing decision? We can all guess but nobody on this side of the Tiber really knows. That he was pressured in some way seems obvious. But, why? Two words: Summorum Pontificum.


At the end of the day and despite “the dossier”, the butler, vatileaks and everything else, it’s my opinion that Benedict incurred the wrath of hell itself when he restored the Traditional Latin Mass to the mainstream of the Catholic Church (even via a motu proprio which is deeply flawed), and that this ultimately led to his abdication.

It really was all about the Mass.

In his Protecting Us with the Traditional Latin Mass, Father Juan Manuel Rodríguez de la Rosa points out that:

"The Traditional Latin Mass is like an impregnable wall that keeps intact the faith, the living Word of God, which constantly speaks to us.

“The unassailable and impregnable wall of the Traditional Latin Mass is protecting us from heresy, from perverting the Catholic faith with the dirty waters of this world which infect and pollute wherever they go through, leaving a trail of sensuality and sin, a world that is given to carnal and sexual instincts.

“The Traditional Latin Mass is protecting us from the filth of the world, but above all protects the Blessed Body and Precious Blood of Our Redeemer, as the scourge of heresy will never stop trying in vain to break down that wall that was built and sustained by God the Father Almighty.

“Heaven is protecting us in every Traditional Latin Mass. The Eternal Father, the Lamb of God, the Divine Spirit, the Immaculate Conception, and the Heavenly Court, are looking after the Traditional Latin Mass from the moment it starts, and are witnessing with heavenly glory the development of the Sacrifice of the Agnus Dei.”

This article calls to mind our raison d’etre as traditional Catholics — the Traditional Latin Mass. Every Traditional Latin Mass restored in recent years is cause of jubilation among the Church Triumphant, entrance into paradise for members of the Church Suffering and renewed hope for the Church Militant.

Since the Mass matters most to the entire Church, I was dismayed to see some recent comments here on our site arguing that Pope Benedict XVI was essentially as bad or worse than Pope Francis. This in my opinion goes too far, if for no other reason than the resurgence of the Traditional Latin Mass that took place during his pontificate and after.

While it is certainly true that Pope Benedict was no traditionalist, it seems obvious that God did work through our conflicted 265th pope in ways history itself will be hard pressed to minimize. And as his friendship with the late, great Michael Davies proved, Ratzinger/Benedict certainly did not loathe traditional Catholics... as other popes do. 

Even before he was pope, Cardinal Ratzinger was acting in a manner that proved a certain sensus Catholicus had managed to survive his tenure as peritus at Vatican II. Remember, for example, when he (as head of the CDF) withdrew Father Charlie Curran’s license to teach Catholic theology due to heretical dissent on an array of dogmas and the Church’s moral teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality?

Well, those days are gone forever.

Or how about when Cardinal Ratzinger hobbled the public heretic from Seattle, Raymond Archbishop Hunthausen, for allowing homosexuals to celebrate Mass at St. James Cathedral.

Who was he to judge, right?

And as pope (regardless of his motives), at the end of the day Pope Benedict XVI lifted the SSPX excommunications, corrected the fundamental lie at the heart of the New Mass (pro multis does indeed mean 'for many'), corroborated one of traditionalism's central and defining arguments (that the old Mass had never been abrogated and never can be), freed up the traditional Latin Mass so that any priest in the world can offer it with or without his bishop's permission, and gave traditionalists in general enough papal backing to put the fear of the Lord back in the liberal establishment for a time. It was rather fun, remember?

And all of this Benedict did in a mere seven years!

But not everyone was a fan. A certain Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aries, for example—already known as a “sworn enemy of the traditional Latin Mass”—was less than enthusiastic about the pontificate of Pope Benedict. He was a liberal Jesuit who rejected the fundamentally Catholic notion that as Padre Rodriguez de la Rosa points out, "the future of the Church is in the Traditional Latin Mass, because it is the Truth of the Church and because it is the light that never goes out, illuminating the path of faith towards the heavenly fatherland." 

Here in Minnesota we can attest to this, as we’re still reaping the harvest of Summorum Pontificum (despite its obvious flaws), with the TLM having expanded rapidly since 2007, a new FSSP parish thriving in these precincts, several SSPX chapels (exonerated, no longer “excommunicated” and  positively bursting with vocations), some ten TLM centers and counting, many diocesan priests saying the old Mass and not a few seminarians eager to make it even more widely available in future.

I'm sorry, but the TLM does matter!  It’s not everything, true; but it matters more than anything else.

Surely, the situation in the Church universal today is beyond dire and without precedent, but there’s no harm in taking some modicum of comfort from the fact that Divine Providence has seen to it that the Traditional Latin Mass—the touchstone of the old Faith—survived a direct hit from Modernism’s atom bomb.

As Bishop Fellay noted at the time of Summorum Pontificum, “By right, the practical measures taken by the pope must enable the traditional liturgy – not only the Mass, but also the sacraments – to be celebrated normally. This is an immense spiritual benefit for the whole Church, for the priests and faithful who were hitherto paralyzed by the unjust authority of the bishops. However, in the coming months it remains to be seen how these measures will be applied in fact by the bishops and parish priests. For this reason, we will continue to pray for the pope so that he may remain firm following this courageous act.”

Does anyone seriously believe that Pope Francis would have performed that ‘courageous act’? Or is it more likely he would have been piloting the Enola Gay?

My intention here is not to lionize Pope Benedict XVI whose outrageous abdication continues to be a source of consternation for us all and whose hermeneutic of continuity—based on a stubborn refusal to acknowledge Vatican II for the disaster that it was (though he came close here)—proved to be so elusive that even he eventually abandoned all hope of finding it.

Nevertheless, does it really prove our traditionalist "cred" to argue that the Church would somehow be better off now had Papa Bergoglio gotten a head start back in 2005, or that it makes no difference either way?

What would life be like right now without the powerful spiritual bulwarks (and human consolation!) provided by hundreds of traditional Mass centers around the world, established as a direct result of SP? 

How could anyone in his right mind contend that the escalating crisis in the Church today would not have been exponentially worse had the current pontificate begun seven years sooner?

If we answer the question honestly perhaps we can all agree that a conflicted Benedict need not be vilified quite so enthusiastically by traditionalists eager to demonstrate prowess at smelling out post-conciliar rats. It's not quite that simple, and Ratzinger was never a Bergoglio, which is why he had so many enemies among radical liberals in the Church. He also had deeper Catholic roots than Bergoglio ever had, and in the end was up against all the powers of hell (including devils in cardinals’ robes), exactly as Our Lady of Fatima predicted he would be.

The reality is that the ranks of traditionalism throughout the world swelled dramatically during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. In fact, in hindsight it seems that God may have been granting His Church seven years to prepare for the worst pontificate in history, which is why we can be grateful that despite his own contamination by the modern ecclesial zeitgeist, Benedict nevertheless held out as long as he did against the wolves around him--wolves from which he would eventually flee.

Defining aspects of his pontificate made him the bane of the existence of modernists on steroids such as Kasper, Danneels and Satan himself. They got rid of him for a reason, which the St. Gallen Group now brazenly admits.

It's all academic now, obviously, but if I had my druthers I'd certainly have taken an extension of the reign of Benedict XVI over the God forsaken free-for-all we’ve got going now. Given how the world hated Pope Benedict XVI and positively adores Pope Francis, I don’t understand how anyone could argue otherwise.

Of all the post-conciliar popes, Benedict was the one who finally blinked. And history may well reveal that the reign of Pope Benedict helped undermine the very Modernist revolution which, ironically enough, Benedict himself had had a hand in a half century earlier.

Yes, the Traditional Latin Mass is just that powerful—the Vendeans knew it, Campion and Southwell knew it, the English Catholics of the Western Uprising knew it, the Cristeros knew it and so do we.

This thing is not over yet.

Long live the Traditional Latin Mass of our Fathers, and thank God Pope Francis has reigned for only three years, rather than ten.

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Last modified on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.