Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Pope and the Cross

Last evening I watched the last part of a film on Paul VI on EWTN - I saw a part of it last weekend as well.  It was quite good - at least I liked it.  I also liked Paul VI very much.  One evening several years ago, I was visiting a priest in his apartment on the campus of a local university.  Another priest professor stopped by and we talked for quite a long time.  Somehow Paul VI came up and I told how thrilled I was to be so close to him at his Masses whenever I was in Rome.  Somewhat enthusiastically I blurted out, "I loved him - I think he was a great pope."  The other guest corrected me and stated in an imperious tone, "I wouldn't say he was great..." and went on to list all the reasons he wasn't a very good pope. 
I left rather bewildered.  Before that evening, the only people I had ever heard criticize the pope so harshly had been secularists, radical progressives and ultra traditionalists.  The things that priest said that evening remain in my memory as if I was hearing them for the first time.  The cursing, the use of God's name, the invective against the pope.  Perhaps it was the brandy speaking.  It remains one more reason why I have kept my distance from church people.
Anyway - I don't know the name of the film on Paul VI, but if you do get a chance to see it, it would be good to watch.  If one looks for an authentic hermeneutic of continuity it can be located in the person of the Pope - contrary to what the grand historians, liturgists, and theological geniuses may tell you. 
Anyway - for your edification...
... [T]he message of the Cross has been entrusted to us, so that we can offer hope to the world. When we proclaim Christ crucified we are proclaiming not ourselves, but him. We are not offering our own wisdom to the world, nor are we claiming any merit of our own, but we are acting as channels for his wisdom, his love, his saving merits. We know that we are merely earthenware vessels, and yet, astonishingly, we have been chosen to be heralds of the saving truth that the world needs to hear. Let us never cease to marvel at the extraordinary grace that has been given to us, let us never cease to acknowledge our unworthiness, but at the same time let us always strive to become less unworthy of our noble calling, lest through our faults and failings we weaken the credibility of our witness. - Benedict XVI  In Cyprus, On the Cross


  1. Like you, I have a great deal of affection and respect for Pope Paul VI. Possibly because he was Pope when I was growing up.

    It saddens me when I see the unkind and harsh comments about the man and his work.

    However I note that the present Pope es[ecially in his last Encyclical is making efforts to bring to people`s attention the teaching of Paul VI

  2. Thanks Terry - I have noted how Pope Benedict is rehabilitating the PP VI image as well - which influenced me to reference the papacy as the hermeneutic of continuity in our religion.

  3. If we reject Pope Paul VI, as somehow being a "rupture" in the Catholic life, we are doing what Pope Benedict has consistently NOT done...when I read what Pope Paul VI wrote and said, especially here on this blog, and consider the absolutely oppressive Cross he had to bear during those crazy dayz of the 60's and 70's, his fortitude amidst the crisis is incredible. He may have made prudential mistakes; he may not have done what certain folks thought was best.
    He did the best he could under the circumstances.
    And that's all we can expect of ourselves and others.
    God sorts it all out.

  4. Maria7:47 PM

    Can anyone imagine where would be without Humanae Vitae? I saw the movie too, Terry.It was lovely...He had a most sensitive heart...

  5. I don't know much about Pope PaulVI..I had just started High School when JPII was selected, and was not a Catholic then.

    I can't believe some of the Catholics that badmouth Popes, Bishops, Cardinals, everyone that doesn't subscribe to their own particular narrow view... alot of the traddie sites just raise my hackles. If all thse people have so much spare time on their hands to pick apart the Latin and the embroidery on vestments they can come work for me..they'll be so tired by the end of the day they won't want to rant and rave.. alot of these sites I think I'll no longer visit. (or stay away from the combox)

    But thanks for sharing this article Terry--I'm learning LOTS!! I don't have EWTN but maybe I can stream the video.


  6. He may have made prudential mistakes; he may not have done what certain folks thought was best.
    He did the best he could under the circumstances.

    Surely this is a contradiction in terms? How can someone do the best they can, when the make faults on the minor or prudential things?

    I agree some people go overboard on the criticisms of the past popes and comes across as uncharitable. But is it really wrong to assess the legacy of one person and see whether it was beneficial, on a whole, for others that were underneath them?

    Granted Paul VI suffered a lot for Humanae Vitae - one cannot deny he presided over the destruction of a lot of Catholic heritage and tradition and his papacy was one of confusion. The church is America is still paying for the days of Paul VI, through the disastrous appointments he made, namely through his papal nuncio to the US: Archbishop Jardot. A personally holy man - maybe. But let's not get into the modern day craze of canonising people merely because we happen to like them or we've seen some movie that warms our hearts.

  7. Dear Mr. Terry Nelson,


    There are good Fathers, and there are bad Fathers.

    In the case of the Holy Father, this is true also.

    Christian Charity calls us to be good spiritual children; in the case of the good Padre that got carried away with his comments, let us pray the three Hail Marys for him.

    Please offer him the following cure for his diseased heart:

    “Whatever a priest may plan, resolve, or do to become holy, he will have to draw, for example and for heavenly strength, upon the Eucharistic Sacrifice which he offers….
    He must imitate what he holds in his hands.
    Pope Blessed John XXIII Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia

    I will be at the Mother Cabrini Shrine in New York City and say a few Ave Marias for you and him.


  8. Pope Paul VI is quoted from his Apostolic Exhortation, "Marialis Cultus" in the "Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Nuns of the Order of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel" (the strict Rule of Nuns of Discalced Carmelite Nuns): "Devotion to the most holy Virgin constitutes a force in the renewal of Christian Life."
    These Nuns live the strictest interpretation of the Teresian charism; they are not "liberals" by any means (the monastery at Lake Elmo,MN lives this interpretation of the Teresian charism, it is from them I have this document).
    Pope Paul VI is villified in many quarters for his lack of proper "rule" of the Church.
    But if these Discalced Carmelite Nuns, traditional to the core, quote him in their official documents, that's good enough for me.

  9. And, as an aside: Popes can make prudential mistakes; for whatever reason.
    Jesus Christ is the Lord; He is Head of the Church, no matter what mistakes are made.
    If we cannot accept this; if this is too much to bear; then we are are tempted to Protestantism.
    I'm sorry if that offends anyone; but I know, from being a former Protestant...the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Saint Peter, has the authority...if he makes mistakes, God will correct them.
    But he cannot err in faith or morals.
    Otherwise, we're all set upon a sea that is merciless and death-giving.
    And I cannot accept this. God provides for His People.


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