Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Understanding the Pope

The Catholic part of the blogosphere has been more than usually busy following the publication of the two recent interviews the Pope has given, with vigorous comments both for and against what the Pope has said or, perhaps more importantly, is thought to have said.

I have good friends who not happy at all with what they read and see, others who are cautious or positive in their reactions. I know those who might well be described as traditionalist, or indeed as Traditionalist (there is a difference) who are very positive about things the Pope has done or said. Others are dismayed and fear the worst. On occasion one person can express both sets of attitudes in the same or following conversations.

The publication of the Vatican decree about the use of the 1962 Missal by the Franciscans of the Immaculate and its implication for the application of Summorum Pontificum was seen by some as the thin edge of a very large wedge. Others saw it as a fairly technical regulation of one specific religious community, and who pointed out that permission for use of the 1962 liturgy had already been readily forthcoming.

For many I know, and thus not just for those who work in the media, the Pope's direct homely style has great appeal, although his daily Mass homilies are, I suspect, often not such as to appeal to Tabletistas who would otherwise enthuse about a South Americal Supreme Pontiff.

Some of the blogs I see, such as Rorate Caeli have posts which are definitely hostile or critical, whilst others seek to see a Hermeneutic of Continuity with Pope Benedict XVI - as for example in this piece by the head of the Knights of Columbus which a friend forwarded to me, and which can be read here.

Now we have Bishop Fellay from SSPX  making his views clear as reported by Rorate Caeli in For the record - Bishop Fellay: "we thank God, we have been preserved from any kind of Agreement"

All this fuels debate, but also confusion. The always insightful blogger Fr Blake has been led to ruminating in his series of recent posts Disconcerted by Francis? , Disconcerted by Francis #2, Disconcerted by Francis #3  and Disconcerted by Francis #4 and also returning to the theme in his post Joseph Shaw on Pope Francis, with its links to Dr Shaw's blog and his recent set of posts on Traditionalism and the present pontificate on his LMS Chairman blog. This too seeks to see common ground between Traditionalists and the Pope, as opposed to those whom Dr Shaw describes as Neo-Conservatives.

On a slightly different, but related, tack Fr Blake has another good post at 'Clericalism' which refers to what the Pope has said about some clergy attitudes. 
I am sure we are going to see a lot more electrons temporarily inconvenienced as the speculation and interpretation continues, as this is an important debate both for the Church as an institution, indeed as the Body of Christ, and for communities and individuals.

Personally I simply watch the situation and wait - as the saying goes "Them's as lives the longest will see the most."

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