Pope or Tradition?

source Fr. Hunwicke`s Mutual Enrichment

Pope or Tradition?

There is an apocryphal tale that B Pius IX once said Io sono la Tradizzione. I thought of that the other day when I read a report that Cardinal Marx had said that, for him, "it is incomprehensible how the Synod Fathers are more bound to Tradition than to the Pope".

Really? Talk about letting Cats out of Bags!

I would like to be quite clear about this. I belong to Christ's Church Catholic as defined by Pastor aeternus of Vatican I (Joseph Ratzinger summarised it so lucidly) in which the Pope is not an absolute monarch but is the Guardian of the Sacred Tradition received from the Apostles. I have no desire to belong to somebody else's "Catholic Church" in which Tradition and Pope are seen as competing alternatives, and in which safe and wise Corporation Men who know what's good for their health prioritise Pope above Tradition. Not even if that "Church" is led by such luminaries as Marx and Kasper.

Later this month, we shall observe the Church Unity Octave, sometimes known nowadays as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I do not know how seriously the Marxes and the Kaspers nowadays take Christian Unity. If Cardinal Marx's enthusiasm for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation is a good basis for guesswork, 'Ecumenism' is, for many such, going to mean cosying up to liberal Protestantism with its multiple apostasies. But, in my own experience of Orthodox Christians, the message that full communion with the See of Rome actually means Sacred Tradition being replaced by the Absolute Power of whoever happens currently to be the Roman Pontiff ... or, even worse, by sectional interests able to get their hands on the levers of power and to manipulate the Papacy so as to promote their own innovatory agendas ... is precisely the sort of message that would confirm their very worst suspicions about the errors of "Papalism".

Four years ago, I and others, not without some sacrifice, joyfully accepted the gracious invitation of Benedict XVI to enter into full communion. I, for one, did not do so in order to stand idly by with a polite smile upon my silly face while some unscrupulous Northern European ecclesiastics plot to demolish the Church's teaching and discipline about Marriage and Sexuality, and to do so by means of a confected hyperpapalism which as far as I can see contradicts the defined doctrine of Vatican I, and thus seems to me clearly a heresy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

And this is what Vatican I had defined: "The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter's successors so that by its revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but, so that, by its assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, i.e. the deposit of Faith".

B John Henry Newman, Patron of our Ordinariate, brilliantly characterised the charisma, the genius, of the Roman Church as its capacity to act as a remora, a breakwater, a hindrance, a stopper against innovation. That's what the Pope's job is.

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