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Michael J. Matt | Editor

This is a recent photo of Pope Francis' impromptu visit to a workers’ cafeteria near the Vatican. What is depicted herein does not smack of heresy or even heterodoxy. Some will argue that it’s not scandalous at all, and perhaps they’re right. But if such now-routine departures from papal protocol cause some Catholic hearts to grow heavy with sadness…mine included…are we not entitled to cry out to our own father: Peter, quo vadis?

The awesome papacy of history, with its 2000-year-old legacy of loyal service to Christ our Royal King, is apparently fading away before our very eyes. Gone are the papal crowns, the royal robes, the sedia gestatoria, the kingly trappings we remember so fondly from our youth  --  and in their place stands the increasingly democratized, egalitarian “pope of the people”. It’s as if Pope is being transformed into President, and I wonder: Does any serious, practicing Catholic really want to see that happen? Do you?

On the Council and the Duties of the Pope

Rome, December, 20 1966

Your Eminence,

Your letter of July 24, concerning the questioning of certain truths was communicated through the good offices of our secretariat to all our major superiors.

Few replies have reached us. Those which have come to us from Africa do not deny that there is great confusion of mind at the present time. Even if these truths do not appear to be called in question, we are witnessing in practice a diminution of fervor and of regularity in receiving the sacraments, above all the Sacrament of Penance. A greatly diminished respect for the Holy Eucharist is found, above all on the part of priests, and a scarcity of priestly vocations in French-speaking missions: vocations in the English and Portuguese-speaking missions are less affected by the new spirit, but already the magazines and newspapers are spreading the most advanced theories.