As nauseating as this is, McElroy did not cover much new territory in his article because we have already seen how Francis’s Synod on Synodality seeks to completely transform the Church through a process of (a) “listening” to those who disagree with the Church’s teachings, (b) selectively synthesizing the results of such “listening” to justify the predetermined assaults on Catholicism, and (c) openly excluding and degrading those who seek to adhere to the Church’s perennial “rigid” teachings.
The more interesting aspect of McElroy’s article is his comparison of “Pope Francis Catholics” and “St. [sic] John Paul II Catholics”:
“An increasingly strong contradiction to the vision of a church of inclusion and shared belonging lies in the growth of polarization within the life of the church in the United States and the structures of exclusion that it breeds. . . . This polarization is reflected in the schism so often present between the pro-life communities and justice-and-peace communities in our parishes and dioceses. It is found in the false divide between ‘Pope Francis Catholics’ and ‘St. John Paul II Catholics.’”
Perhaps accidentally, he is absolutely correct: any perceived division between John Paul II Catholics and Francis Catholics that goes beyond superficial differences is entirely false. The pope who gave us the first Prayer Meeting at Assisi and elevated Bergoglio to the rank of Cardinal might disagree with Francis on a few technical points, but they share the same religious convictions.
One of the clearest indications of this comes from John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter regarding his excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Ecclesia Dei. In that letter he of course condemns the archbishop’s consecration of bishops, but he also identifies the root of the “schism”:
“The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, ‘comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.’”
For John Paul II, and all who agree with him, the “living character of tradition” calls Catholics to take paths which would have been anathema only decades ago. The seeds of the Synod, McElroy’s commentary above, and everything we see from Francis can be found in these few sentences from John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei.
Even according to Vatican II, then, tradition should be handed down “in its full purity,” and the bishops must “preserve this word of God faithfully.” The post-Conciliar popes have refused to comply with this requirement from Vatican II.
And, just as Francis and McElroy point to Vatican II to justify their taking the Church down new paths, John Paul II cited the Council for his idea of the “living character of tradition.” Tellingly though, John Paul’s quotation (above) of the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, excluded the same document’s essential qualification on the limits of development in tradition:
“Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known.”
Even according to Vatican II, then, tradition should be handed down “in its full purity,” and the bishops must “preserve this word of God faithfully.” The post-Conciliar popes have refused to comply with this requirement from Vatican II. Instead, they ask theologians to search for historical similarities to the new, faux-Catholic policies they seek to institute. Thus, almost comically, John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei called on theologians to engage in “deeper study” to reveal how the Council was in continuity with Tradition:
“Moreover, I should like to remind theologians and other experts in the ecclesiastical sciences that they should feel themselves called upon to answer in the present circumstances. Indeed, the extent and depth of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council call for a renewed commitment to deeper study in order to reveal clearly the Council's continuity with Tradition, especially in points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the Church.”
One would have thought that this was something the Council Fathers ought to have done before approving the documents!
There really is no point in criticizing McElroy or Francis if we refuse to actually go back to the point before we left the right path, and that means we have to go back to what the Church clearly taught before the Council.
Why does this matter today, when it is Francis rather than John Paul II leading the Church down unholy paths? The reason, as McElroy suggests, is that those who see how wrong Francis is will yearn for the better days of John Paul II, or even Benedict XVI, failing to see that we can only make headway against these heretics by returning to unadulterated Catholic tradition. Going back to John Paul II or Benedict XVI is like the driver who realizes he has been driving down the wrong road for hundreds of miles and decides to fix the problem by driving backwards a few miles to a point that seemed more like the right road.
There really is no point in criticizing McElroy or Francis if we refuse to actually go back to the point before we left the right path, and that means we have to go back to what the Church clearly taught before the Council. Like him or (more likely) not, at least McElroy is being true to his anti-Catholic beliefs. What we need now is for his counterparts who are actually Catholic to start being true to their beliefs. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
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