Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
email:torontocatholicwitness@rogers.com

Saturday, 30 March 2013

When the Pope ignores the Church's Law we have chaos

Much has been discussed on the Holy Father decision to wash the feet of two girls during his Holy Thursday Mass at the prison. One girl, so we were informed, was not even Christian. The Pope is the Supreme Legislator, and can change law - however, with any change of law, comes the need to legislate such change.  To act contrary to law, as the Supreme Legislator, yet to not comment on or change the law for others to do same is chaos. This issue should not be swept under the table, nor discussed with histrionic indulgence. Pope Francis needs to understand that he is the Supreme Pontiff and not a parish priest fudging about in far off Buenos Aires. Whether he likes it or not, every action and word is seen by the world as examples, symbols, motivations for bishops and priests to emulate.  The law of the Church is already being violated and abused - and this for decades. To top it off, the secular media are trying to push it all in a certain direction. Now this is their problem, but it also becomes our problem as Catholics, as it causes disquiet, misunderstanding, distress and confusion.

I link to Fr. Z and his review of canonist Edward Peters' assessment:

[We get to the crux of the canonical issue...] 3. Few people seem able to articulate when a pope is bound by canon law (e.g., when canon law legislates matters of divine or natural law) and when he may ignore it (e.g., c. 378 § 1 on determining the suitability of candidates for the episcopate or appointing an excessive number of papal electors contrary to UDG 33). Those are not hard cases. Most Church laws, however, fall between these two poles and require careful thinking lest confusion for—nay, dissension among—the faithful arise. Exactly as happened here[In spades!]Now, even in that discussion, the question is not usually whether the pope is bound to comply with the law (he probably is not so bound), but rather [pay attention...]how he can act contrary to the law without implying, especially for others who remain bound by the law but who might well find it equally inconvenient, that inconvenient laws may simply be ignored because, well, because the pope did it.  [That, ladies and gents, is the problem.  Liberals are going to claim that because of what Francis did, they can do whatever they wish.  Indeed, they will claim that others who uphold the clearly written law are wrong to up hold the law.  They will, like gnostics, appeal to some vague super-principle which trumps all law (and reason).]
4. A pope’s ignoring of a law is not an abrogation of the law but, especially where his action reverberated around the world, it seems to render the law moot.[moot - "doubtful, theoretical, meaningless, debatable"] For the sake of good order, then [Peters' own recommendation...], the Mandatum rubrics should be modified to permit the washing of women’s feet or, perhaps upon the advice of Scriptural and theological experts, the symbolism of apostolic ministry asserted by some to be contained in the rite should be articulated and the rule reiterated. What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
Get that last point?
What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board.
This is a huge problem.

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