The Pope’s Council of Advisors Declares that it supports “His Magisterium”
But what about the Magisterium? Not so much.
by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 17, 2017
One of Francis’ first acts as Pope was to create a Council of Cardinal Advisors, commonly known as “C9”, to advise him on ecclesial affairs. The “advice,” however, appears to constitute little more than an echo chamber for whatever Francis wishes to say.
To recall, the members of the Council are: Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa; Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary to the Council; Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias; German Cardinal Reinhard Marx; Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga; Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello; U.S. Cardinal Sean O'Malley; Australian Cardinal George Pell; and Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya.
All of the nine, with the exception of Pell, are radical progressives by any historical standard of Catholicism, whereas Pell, a “moderate” progressive, appears to be hanging on to his position by his fingernails. Meanwhile, he has already been removed from the Congregation for Divine Worship, which oversees the Church’s sacred liturgy, along with Cardinal Burke, the de facto spokesman for the four cardinals who have published the dubia concerning Amoris Laetitia. (Burke has just been shuffled off to Guam.)
The C9 has leapt into action as opposition to Francis’ relentlessly progressive agenda mounts among concerned clergy and laity throughout the Catholic world, including protest posters plastering Rome and a spoof of L’Osservatore Romano wherein “Francis” answers ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to each of the four cardinals’ dubia. The C9 have issued an extraordinary “vote of confidence” in Francis, as if he were the head of a parliament, in the form of a Note published as part of the Vatican press briefing of February 13. The pertinent portion (my translation from the Italian) is quite striking:
“In relation to recent events, the Council of Cardinals expresses full support for the work of the Pope, assuring at the same time its adhesion to and complete support of His person and His Magisterium.”
“[In relazione a recenti avvenimenti, il Consiglio di Cardinali esprime pieno appoggio all’opera del Papa, assicurando al tempo stesso adesione e sostegno pieni alla Sua persona e al Suo Magistero.]”
Note first of all the curious typography in the Italian original, not present in the Vatican’s own English translation: “His person and His Magisterium.” In contemporary Vatican usage the pronoun “his” is no longer capitalized even when used in reference to God. (See, for example, this section of the Catechism at the Vatican’s website.) But the traditional usage in reference to God suddenly reappears in reference to Francis!
More significant is the reference to “His Magisterium.” Why not “the Magisterium,” which is the teaching office of the Church, not of a particular Pope? The Church does not have a different Magisterium with each Pope, but the same Magisterium to which all Popes are bound. Thus, on the very day he was installed as Pope, Benedict XVI declared his intention to subsume his personal ideas to the Magisterium of all time:
“The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism….”
So, again, why “His magisterium” rather than “the Magisterium”? The answer should be obvious at this point in the crisis provoked by what Antonio Socci has aptly termed “Bergoglianism”: the Magisterium and the teaching of Francis are not one and the same thing. That is why the four cardinals have posed their dubia. That is why alarm is spreading throughout the Church. That is why protest posters have appeared in Rome, along with the mock edition of L’Osservatore Romano. And that is why the Council of Cardinals has issued its “vote of confidence” in a Pope who is clearly eliciting a vote of “no confidence” from a growing number of the faithful.
The liberal John Allen frets that “one could ask whether such a statement lends a significance to the anti-Francis blowback that heretofore was debatable. From the beginning, most commentators have been cautioning against exaggerating the dimensions of such resistance… By engaging it in such a high-profile way, it’s at least worth mulling whether the cardinals have inadvertently done it a favor.”
Liberals like Allen, along with the members of the C9 echo chamber, would like to bury the “anti-Francis blowback,” which is just a pejorative for “Catholic defense of orthodoxy.” But as Our Lord said when the Pharisees demanded that He rebuke His disciples for praising His “mighty works”: “I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) That is, the truth of the Magisterium cannot be silenced even if the hierarchy fails in its duty to defend it.
As for Francis and “His Magisterium,” in God’s good time it will pass from memory just as surely as the errors of Honorius, who was posthumously anathematized by an ecumenical council and a successor Pope, and John XXII, who was denounced for preaching heresy from the pulpit before he retracted his error on his deathbed. Both of these Popes, though validly elected, nonetheless transgressed the limits of the Magisterium. Much the same thing, but far worse, is happening today at this turning point in the history of the Church and the world.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!