HEN BENEDICT XVI was pope, it was only natural that certain articles & blogs would point out actions by him, especially with regard to liturgical matters. Whenever this happened, certain progressive liturgists would repeat the same phrases over and over. I can’t remember them all, but here are some that surfaced most often:
We should recall that every Bishop is the Vicar of Christ in his diocese, guarding against the impression that only the Pope is. Until very recently, most bishops were not appointed by the Pope, and most Christians had no reason to know the name of the Pope. The first encyclical by a pope was in the 18th century and popes seldom issued comprehensive teaching documents for the whole world before then. And so on… Translation: Nothing said or done by Benedict XVI matters much.
Upon the election of Pope Francis, however, these same voices have become obsessed with every aspect of St. Peter’s Successor (even ridiculously trivial items and things they misunderstand), and—wonder of wonders!—these same progressives no longer repeat the above phrases. This probably shouldn’t surprise us, since they’re often quite “selective” in their approach to the Church. (Consider, for example, how carefully they ignore key Vatican II mandates like Sacrosanctum Concilium §116.) 1
WHAT HAS SURPRISED ME, THOUGH, are actions by some of my friends in the “ultra-traddy” camp. For example, I recently visited an ULTRA-TRADITIONAL blog. Of the twenty most recent posts, seventeen of them had to do with Pope Francis. Yet, when Pope Benedict XIV was pope, his minor actions were never treated in such a fashion. In fact, if we entered a time machine and went back to the papacy of B16, perhaps three-out-of-twenty posts on that same blog would have dealt with Pope Benedict. Is Pope Francis really that much more significant than B16?
If the authors of such blogs were questioned, their response would doubtless be:
Truth be told, we have no reporters. All we can do is “react” whenever something is put forward by news organizations. Our “breaking news” is nothing more than copy/paste from mainstream media sources. Therefore, if such organizations report on Pope Francis excessively—while they never reported on Pope Benedict XVI—all we can do is mimic them.
They fail to realize they’ve fallen into a trap. Today’s 24-hour news cycle has made reporters outrageously lazy, and far too much of the daily “news” consists of obsessing about our president, while shamelessly ignoring the vast problems afflicting millions of Americans. When President Obama was first elected, the most pressing question one reporter had for him—and actually asked this at a press conference—was: “Mr. President, what has most enchanted you during your first 100 days in office?”
How distressing to see some ULTRA-TRADITIONALIST blogs treat our Pope the same way secular media treat the president—obsessing about every little thing he says & does—in a way they never did for B16. Their actions display a lack of understanding about the true nature of the Papacy.
TO THOSE WHO GENUINELY LOVE the Church and her traditions: Do good. Focus on the positive. Celebrate the beautiful things God has given us, like Bach’s Art of the Fugue or the Gregorian Psalm tones. Stop obsessing about everything you see reported by the brain-dead & pagan mainstream media. Resist the temptation to believe that Francis is 80,000 times as important as Benedict because he receives 80,000 times as much media coverage.
As someone who first started attending the 1962 Mass on a daily basis during the mid-1990s, I can assure you that any gains made for sacred tradition were accomplished by showing others the positive. Incidentally, few things are easier than finding “bad news” about the Church in today’s world. I could easily cite specific names of horrible, wretched appointments by any pope you like—even Benedict XVI (who’s probably my favorite pope of the last 70 years).
Only a fool would consider Pope Francis a strong leader in favor of the Extraordinary Form. Similarly, there was very little support for the ancient liturgy during the 1990s. 2 Yet, I cannot see any difference between the Rite as I attended two decades ago and the Rite I attend now: same beauty, same graces, same peace. No amount of foolishness on the part of the mainstream media can change this.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 A blog by the Collegeville Liturgical Press cites—more than any other source—the National Catholic Reporter, which recently printed an article containing this gem of wisdom: “What if God can make a mistake? What if God is only slightly better at navigating life than we are?”
2 During the ’90s, when a high-ranking cleric in our Diocese learned that all seven members of my family attended the Traditional Latin Mass, he literally ran away from us. It was incredibly rude and left a terrible impression upon me.