Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pope Francis affirms Trent, invokes Benedict XVI's "hermeneutic of reform in continuity"

For the record, as Rorate Caeli reports (November 23, 2013):
Today the Vatican website published the Latin letter addressed by Pope Francis to Cardinal Brandmuller on the celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent. The letter affirms the continued importance of the doctrine of Council of Trent. While some might dismiss this as mere routine, this letter has the significance of being the very first occasion (to our knowledge) that Francis has directly and explicitly invoked, when touching upon the interpretation of doctrine, the authority of Benedict XVI's epoch-dividing December 22, 2005 address on the "'hermeneutic of reform', of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church." (Sometimes shortened to 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' and, with less precision, to 'hermeneutic of continuity'.)


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Clarity and consistency of thought does not seem to be a hallmark of this pope. But one or two things are clear to me.

(1) to acknowledge the "importance" of Trent is not the same thing as expressing one's loyalty to it or willing consistency of thought with it.

(2) "direct and explicit invocation" of Benedict's "hermeneutic of reform in continuity" does not, in the mind of this pope, preclude direct and explicit criticism, if not ridicule, of traditionalists, for whom Benedict's continuity/rupture model for understanding V2 is erroneous, and a mite self-serving.

(3) "direct and explicit invocation" of Benedict's "hermeneutic of reform in continuity" does not, in the mind of this pope, preclude breaking rank with Ratzinger on a regular basis to endorse the various enterprises of "Spirit of V2" partisans.

(4) I would therefore wonder if these expressions are a "trimming of sails" or an attempt at consolidation of support, meant to isolate both progressive extremists and traditionalists -- especially the latter -- those rosary-rattling pelagians for whom he, perhaps as a way of punctuating his gushing expressions of indiscriminate charity, has already expressed disdain.

I am not Spartacus said...

VaticanTwo is just like Trent only completely different and Vatican Two kept the same Doctrines as Trent only now they are completely different and you can easily tell the Councils are the same by their captious differences and so who amongst us (hiding-out in the Caves of Covadonga that are the Real Mass Trad Orders) are not irked by the claims of those, apparently, standing amidst a hail of frogs splatting on their noggins that have driven them into such abject insensibility that reflexive claims of continuity occasionally result.

If some hurricane had almost completely destroyed your house, would you listen with any patience to your Insurance Company if the Representative said; "What's your problem, nothing has really changed, you're at the same address; here is a Blue Tarp (folks in Fl will know), we'll get back to ya."

Now, imagine how much angrier you would be if the destruction of your house had been the act of modernist vandals and not an act of God?

Everything is different, nothing is changed is on every invisibilium Felt Banner still hanging in our Lil' Licit Liturgy Gathering Spaces.

Pertinacious Papist said...


One thing I noticed was a lack of parity between the two hermeneutics -- the one being called a "hermeneutic of rupture," and the other not being called a "hermeneutic of continuity," but rather a "hermeneutic of reform and continuity."

The problem for me is not that there isn't a proper way of understanding these things. The problem, rather, is that the word "reform" in the latter expression seems like something that can be taken as a carte blanche for declaring that all sorts of innovations are nevertheless also in "continuity."

JM said...

Fr Z's blog calls this HUGE.

Sorry, but puh-leeze. It is hardly a ripple, and considering this, or other veiled comments, as examples of substantial leadership is what has got us in the troubled spot we are in. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That remains a request engrafted. Just what about Trent is he affirming? Just what about Vatican II is too often presented as a rupture and how is that wrong? Again, the POpes aren't telling. Or judging, right?

Let's be honest: this is actually an example of the priestly culture wanting so bad to be loyal to the Pope that they see silver in every lining. He endorsed a book that doesn't enshrine Rahner as a prophet! He didn't explicitly condone anything heretical!! OK, but a Pope mentioning Trent with approval is cause for a double back flip? Does anyone think Francis is a fan of Tridentine theology? You notice he cites no examples. In Fr. Z's combox there is a single comment that reflects sanity over the predictable rash of "See, I knew it! The Pope is indeed a prophet, revelator and seer, see?!!" Here is that splash of cold water:

S.Armaticus says:

Pop quiz sports fans.

Q: Who wrote the following:

“…it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. ”

A: ?

The answer can be found here:

Sheldon said...


I love your comment, even though the splash of cold water is upsetting. I think the most damning thing about Vatican II and its aftermath have been, not so much the most blatant affirmations of heresy by "dissenters," but the tapestry and psychology of "options" that ensued. Don't want fish on Fridays? Substitute another penance. Don't like Gregorian Chant? Substitute Marty Haugen. Don't want Communion on the tongue? Receive It in the hand. Don't want to go to Mass on Sunday? Go Saturday afternoon. Don't like Garrigou-Lagrange? Then read Han Urs von Balthasar? Don't like the rhythm method or missionary position? Read Christopher West. Don't like Pope Francis's America interview or La Civiltà Cattolica interview, where he seems indifferent to Catholic doctrine and moral teaching? Then try his Latin letter to Cardinal Brandmuller, where he speaks positively of the Council of Trent. The overall effect is to erode the Catholic faith, reduce it to a buffet of options, and sap it of all conviction.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The two words are at odds with one another. "Rupture" and "continuity" are clearly opposites. But "reform" and "continuity" are just as clearly not synonymous. If continuity means "more of the same," then reform means "more of the same but with a difference," which borders on contradiction. Of course, this would be the point at which Joseph Ratzinger would step in and offer a 90 page Ignatius Press $15 hard cover booklet parsing out "more of the same but with a non-differential difference," and someone else, perhaps the next Avery Dulles, would trot out a pseudo-poetic same-only-better analogy (how about, "reform" changes a straight line road into a spiral road,a road which stretches in both vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously although the destination remains the same"), and the Grub Street choir would thunder "Yes, that's it, exactly it, wondrously and satisfyingly it!" – well, unless Pope Bergoglio happened to think otherwise.

Personally, I think the Spirit of V2 partisans (let's call them rupturists) have the better of Ratzinger in their description of what happened at the Council and what its participants meant it to be. It was a few thousand bishops, priests, cardinals, and esteemed protestant "spectators" locked in a room, luminous with the self-congratulation the politically savvy among them chose to credit to the Holy Ghost. In that spirit, they concocted their agenda of rupture (or, as they might prefer, of a “New Beginning”), and hammered out the concealing language through which they would sell it to the world. For them, the documents were roseate brochures used to make the sale. By the mid 70s we had seen the results of that sale, and many of us were suffering extreme buyer’s remorse.

To me, that seems to be a more credible version of the reality of V2 than simply, "let's get our inebriation down on paper and then go home and sleep it off," which is the distilled essence of Ratzinger's "hermeneutic of reform and continuity." Once a dedicated rupturist, Ratzinger’s case of buyer’s remorse led him to a narrative in which the documents were the culmination, the final product of V2. To believe his version requires one to believe that, after having been "on fire" with the Holy Spirit, the apostles shuffled into the street to conduct, more or less, business as usual.

Which “hermeneutic” is more credible to you?

Please understand that when I say that the rupturist commentators had it right I am not saying that I agree with the agenda they are still attempting to force upon the Church. I am only saying that the rupturists offer a more convincing interpretation of what actually happened at V2 than does Ratzinger, Whether duped or genuinely partisan, an overwhelming majority of Church leaders left Vatican II convinced that a time of great reform was at hand – and that they, each one of them, proudly played a major role in it. I do not believe that “continuity” was the word foremost in their minds.

When all is said and done, you can’t tell the reformers from the rupturists these days. In my opinion, “reform” is what would have happened if the original council agenda had not been overthrown and replaced by a “spirit of new beginning.” But it was, and instead of reform we got what Grub Street mayor George Weigel calls “deep reform.” New Beginning in place, we have moved forward from Year Zero, and old words have new meanings. Reform can mean anything from total bastion-razing rupture to spellchecking. I am “on fire” with an hermeneutic of restoration, myself, but I’m told that restoration now means schism.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Odd that reform is the first born of analysis, and that clarity is the first casualty of reform. The more you attempt to improve something the more you lose sight of what it is meant to be. Those who live in the time of continuity are probably the happiest and definitely have the deepest understanding of what matters most to them. Those who live in a time of reform end up uncertain about everything. It is only when the plague of reform stops that we begin to see where we are now, and few are happy with the finding. To paraphrase one of my favorite political philosophers, the deepest and truest knowledge is the kind we carry not in our brain-pans, but in our hips.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Thanks, Ralph. Substantial and well-put. Food for thought indeed.

JM said...

On a related note,