Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Dubious End of the Dubia

The word on the street is that the dubia of Cdls. Brandmüller, Burke, et al. has finally reached its termination with a traditional definition of the immorality of receiving Communion whilst in the midst of adultery by a small, toothless conference in Rome. This “whimper” ending of the dubia process is disappointing but unsurprising. An old mentor of mine once encouraged me to pray for Joseph Ratzinger upon his election to the papacy because he was “more of an academic than a man of action,” and that goes double for Raymond Leo Burke, a man more comfortable in a law library than the public square.

This is not to suggest that the cardinal lacks a spine, merely that he is better at standing still in the midst of a hurricane than he is at wielding a weapon against the enemy. The fruitless exercise of the dubia by the ever-dwindling association of cardinals ended in frustration and confusion, and perhaps it has left the situation worse than when it began.

Meanwhile, the Francismachine continues to bulldoze apace. Cdl. Raymond “Lion” Burke lacks the resolve of his middle-namesake, favoring public respect and a show of obedience to the direct opposition of this Satanic undermining of marital life.
How can any one enter into the house of the strong, and rifle his goods, unless he first bind the strong? and then he will rifle his house. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.
The Vatican’s offenses against matrimony are accumulative and disastrous for the salvation of men. We traditionalists have been looking to the dubia cardinals as modern-day Bishop Turpins—the celebrated warrior-bishop of La Chanson de Roland—but they are in the final analysis mere clerics in the reductive sense of the word: clerks worried more about an imbalance in the books than about the evil at the root of the problem.

One day we may get the reforming clergy we need, but Brandmüller and Burke have quietly retreated from the field while their soldiers still fight. They may continue to grant interviews until the day they die, but talk is only talk.
From the other part is the Archbishop Turpin,
He pricks his horse and mounts upon a hill;
Calling the Franks, sermon to them begins:
“My lords barons, Charles left us here for this;
He is our King, well may we die for him:
To Christendom good service offering.
Battle you’ll have, you all are bound to it,
For with your eyes you see the Sarrazins.
Pray for God’s grace, confessing Him your sins!
For your souls’ health, I’ll absolution give
So, though you die, blest martyrs shall you live,
Thrones you shall win in the great Paradis.”
The Franks dismount, upon the ground are lit.
That Archbishop God’s Benediction gives,
For their penance, good blows to strike he bids. (lxxxix)


  1. Cardinal Burke doesn't favor public respect, nor is it true that he is "a man more comfortable in a law library than the public square." It's distressing when one makes enemies, and it always aggrieved His Eminence when this happened, because their relationship to the church becomes more fraught, but he knew that he simply had to pray for them.

    Politics are not in fact Machiavellian nor an exercise of Realpolitik, but to an extent, one must play by those rules when one's enemies do. "The fruitless exercise of the dubia by the ever-dwindling association of cardinals ended in frustration and confusion, and perhaps it has left the situation worse than when it began." Of course. Not even St Robert Bellarmine adequately solves the problem of the pope who is a heretic. The First See is to be judged by no one, but the pope being a heretic requires a judgment. It's contradictory ipso facto. It is not simply a recognition of the state which already exists, and the pope is extremely careful to avoid saying anything himself which is heterodox, even if his endorsement of the Argentinian position is to be taken into consideration, and even though he has remained silent in the wake of the dispute between Polish and Maltese bishops, as the former have gone after the latter on charges of heterodoxy.

    I do not think that the following is an accurate assessment, that they are merely "clerks worried more about an imbalance in the books than about the evil at the root of the problem." This is the face which they put on to an extent in public, but Cardinal Burke would be imprudent to take a stand publicly. One man cannot fight alone when he is uncertain of his allies. We say Athanasius contra mundum, but that is not quite right. Many Alexandrian supported him, and so did orthodox Christians in other jurisdictions. It is true that the resignation of Benedict XVI directly led to this mess--I see no other way around that conclusion--but he did at least try to take action during his pontificate, but at the end, felt it impossible, given the breach within his inner circle, and this not even in the clergy, among whom one surely can find opponents of reform. Cardinal Burke attempted reform in St. Louis. It is a slow process to begin with, and that is if one is able to overcome quickly and easily the opposition.

    Meanwhile, Cardinal Sarah continues to deliver blows to the enemy from within, at great risk to himself, because everyone who speaks in any way against the current pontiff gets removed, a process which began with Cardinal Burke, who, yes, had been in his post for some time, but nevertheless was an enemy of the pope--though he would never put it in those terms, and nor would most of his supporters--and still fairly young (he still is young, all things considered). I hate to break it to Hilary White, but the fact is, reform is best done from within the Curia. Ratzinger at the very least was elected and did at least for a time his best, and he would not have been elected had he not been both Dean of the Sacred College and Prefect of the CDF. She is overly pessimistic in this matter, and while I would not describe myself as optimistic about the current, short-term prospects of this papal reign and even the one to follow, I do not see things nearly as negatively as she does.

    1. I do not know what Cdl. Burke is thinking when he weighs and acts, but in spite of his intentions he made himself a de facto leader of the charge against this papal confusion. The dubia his group submitted was a gauntlet thrown on the ground, not a piece of paperwork, and his frequent talk about deposing or otherwise punishing an erring pope is not a mere academic exercise. You oughtn't start a fight you're not willing to finish, and if you start it publicly you had better not hide with the excuse of prudence.

      I understand that Burke's allies are few in the college, but they are larger among parish priests and numerous among the laity. If Francis punished his impudence by stripping him of his titles or by (God forbid) laicization, he would be immediately cared for by a thousand outstretched hands. The temporal consequences of Burke and Brandmüller making an outright condemnation would be limited since the pope no longer wields the power of the sword, but the spiritual consequences of leaving so many concerned and confused Catholics in the lurch while their weaker brethren take advantage of the "Franciscan dispensation" are immense.

      At this point there is nothing more tiresome than another history lesson from Cdl. Burke concerning what theologians of the past once wrote about judging and punishing a pope. We already know what they said. We do not know if they were right that a pope can or even may be deposed. Burke soliloquizes like the indecisive Hamlet: "The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that I ever was born to set it right!" If he doesn't know what to do, he should stop talking about all the things he's not doing. Stop giving interviews. Stop appearing at traditionalist conferences. Stop writing the answers to the dubia unless you are willing to state that the pope is morally incapable of answering them himself.

      There are many lay Catholics who say and do nothing out of a sense of respect and obedience to the Holy See, and they desperately need someone in a position of authority to keep their fortitude from crumbling. Academese was not helpful when it spilled from the pen of Ratzinger, and it certainly is not helpful now.

    2. There is an alternative theory, that things are really bad, but that even so, the pope needs to directly refuse to answer the questions or needs to say something which directly responds, even if to another audience, and that gives him no cover. So, I suppose I still disagree. This is a fight which cannot be lost. Essentially, even his allies need to be shown how rotten it all is.

    3. Outside of Sarah there really is no one left in the Curia - not in a senior position, certainly - with any interest in reforming.

  2. "The First See is to be judged by no one, but the pope being a heretic requires a judgment."

    Can we please post this to the bulletin boards of all traddy parishes? Folks are so loose with their tongue. Perhaps gravely so.

    1. It also is not the case that this means we can never say anything negative about the pope. Our remarks must be within certain bounds, but those are of charity, and not the ones of the canon which above all deals with the law.

  3. One shows a lack of respect for MIT when one denounces a professor for teaching
    a^{2}+b^{2}=c^{4) and, similarly, one shows a lack of respect for the office of the Papacy when one denounces its occupant for saying that those living in Adultery are living in a state of Sanctifying Grace.

    Now, ABS is not saying that but the vast majority Catholics are for ABS does not think it shows any respect for that Divinely Constituted Office to allow its occupant to teach heresy without denouncing him BY NAME as a heretic and standing up for Christ and His truth.

    Maybe somebody can explain this all to ABS because such claims seem more like Mysterium Iniquitatis than to orthodopraxis.

  4. The autocorrect here even changes words after one has reviewed them in "preview"

    ABS knows how to spell orthopraxis. If he didn't, he'd qualify to be on Team Francis