The ongoing saga of the unjust and tragic persecution of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate has demonstrated once again what is actually at the root of the post-conciliar liturgical crisis – namely the issue of doctrine in relation to the traditional Roman Mass versus the Novus Ordo Missae. Like cream rising to the top of a milk pail, recent news has affirmed initial speculations that the friars and sisters were being treated in a heavy-hand fashion because some members were harboring “crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift” as related in a letter by Apostolic Commissar – err, Commissioner - Fr. Fidenzio Volpi.
What follows is my translation of the rather sensational article by Messrs. Gnocchi and Palmari, a pair of Italian Catholic intellectuals, in which the authors leveled profound and quite scathing public criticisms of the current pontificate under a title that could not be more provocative. After the article was published in the Italian daily Il Foglio on October 9, however, Pope Francis personally telephoned Palmaro to assure him “that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.”
Let that be a lesson to the neo-Catholic proponents of abject silence and submission in the face of every papal word or deed—including those who run Radio Maria, which dismissed both authors from their positions as Catholic commentators immediately after the article appeared. Silence in the face of public scandal, even if it be the scandal of a Pope, has never been the Catholic way, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the turbulent epochs of Church history would know.
What's the Catholic answer to Catholic bashing? Our job as Catholics is not to remind people that we can’t be criticized, or to find ways to get our secular government to ‘protect’ us from nasty and unkind critiques, or to get the secular state to allow us the ‘freedom’ to practice our quirky beliefs inside their secular public order; it is instead to show secular critics that our own views on freedom, sex, and much else besides, are correct and should be adopted by the public at large.
A recent issue of U.S. News and World Report published an editorial that upset some Catholics. The essay in question was written by a writer who was rather annoyed that Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s majority-tipping decision allowed some nuns in Denver to opt out of the federal decree that requires businesses of a certain size to offer carcinogens birth control pills as part of their health insurance coverage. The editorialist in question, Jamie Stiehm, saw the Catholic Church as a domineering and meddlesome institution, and one that was usurping the hard won rights of non-Catholic and ‘good’ Catholic-Americans. According to Stiehm, Sotomayor was a ‘bad’ Catholic, in that she was unduly influenced by the authoritarian religious group to which she belonged; it seemed as if her Catholic beliefs had made her blind to the sacred, secular ideals of her own country, including those that boldly speak to the separation of church and state.