A New Ultramontism? asks Fr Ray Blake

Fr. Ray Blake writes in “A New Ultramontism” a thoughtful post on the roller coaster ride we have all been on.

An excerpt:

I can understand the Pope thinking that those issues which people like me assumed were settled have actually not been, maybe today or tomorrow they need to be. Could it be we have just papered over cracks and in reality there are deep fissures? Possibly in places like South America, these issues were not settled, maybe the Church pulsates to a different rhythm elsewhere; military coups, dictatorships and juntas meant the Pope’s homeland simply sees things differently but many younger clergy in North America and Europe, at least, I think thought God was beginning to give his Church peace so we might stop the post-Concilliar ad intra controversies and at last begin the work of evangelisation.

Though we are urged to look outwards, ‘to the perpheries’, what seems to be happening is that everyone both in and outside the Church is looking at the Pope, more so than any of his predecessors, he has become the sole ‘specialist of the logos’. It appears as if the only indispensable person in the Church at the moment is the Bishop of Rome, he alone can control the velocity of the roller coaster and which particular track it will follow. He alone has the master-plan. What did he mean yesterday by the Curia no longer being  ‘inspector and inquisitor’? What seems to be happening is that we are dispensing with one one form of Ultramontanisn to more closely another one. Magister had an interesting article in which he spoke of  ‘the monocratic, centralizing form in which Francis is in fact governing the Church.’

It is not my intention to criticise, just merely to say I am still uncertain where I am being led and to express a degree of concern. The thing is that we have had John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we have had the Catechism, Vatican II has been studied and reflected upon for 50 years, the Church cannot go back to the chaos and anarchy of my youth. The state of flux which clergy of a certain generation look back on with fondness has been superseded. To impose on the Church of today a model of fifty years ago seems folly. The ‘modern world’ rejoiced over in Gaudium et Spes is the world of our grandparents generation there is new ‘modern world’ a world of mass and immediate communication, a world that is hostile to the fundamentals of Christian teaching and yet seems to hunger for it.

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2 Responses to A New Ultramontism? asks Fr Ray Blake

  1. Stephen K says:

    Deborah, thank you for this link. I found the comments by one of the posters, “George”, to be a salutary reminder to all of us how easy it is to mistake ‘being right’ for righteousness (in the theological sense) or any other variation of not seeing the spiritual wood for the religious trees.

    In your introductory sentence you refer to the “roller coaster we have all been on”. Have we all? Or perhaps, alternatively, ‘when have we not?’ Isn’t life itself a kind of unceasing roller coaster? Should we expect religious life to be any different?

    We invest much emotional energy into what other people do or say: Catholics of a particular stripe hang on every word of the Pope, alternately fearful of what it might mean, or relieved or elated if it accords with their existing expectation or belief; others do much the same where other figures are concerned. This may be so universal a tendency that it is natural, but is it wise or always healthy? In years to come, you will be able to look back on what each Pope appears to have achieved or know better where his approach fitted into the scheme of things, but in the meantime, are there not people on whom our focus and concern and care are better expended? Children or friends or relatives or the suffering we encounter? I think the comments “George” made about charity very important. It’s not an area in my life I can say or ever expect to say I’ve covered, and, theologically, “I” cannot in any case, it seems to me, it being a product of this thing called “grace” which is God’s not mine. But it nags on a daily basis nonetheless. “George” is reminding us, in a way, that it should.

  2. Pingback: A New Ultramontism? asks Fr Ray Blake | Catholic Canada

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