I knew a wonderful old school Jesuit I think in his 90s in the 1970s, which means he was a kid when the famous Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, was still alive. He might have been an altar-boy at a certain Mass at which Father Hopkins was preaching. This old Jesuit I knew was in an apartment, alone, not far from death, ostracized, it seems, marginalized, beyond the peripheries, by the more knuckleheaded crowd of the Society in the greater metropolitan area where I was at that time in my life. I would go over to visit him just to do it. He had massive bibliographies to publish, incredible stories to tell, a priest’s priest, an inspiration for a kid like me.
If memory serves me well [meaning: I stand to be corrected], I recall one such story, the details of which I have not been able to find on the internet outside of the words of Father Hopkins: “To hell with the Jesuits.” Here’s the rest of the story as I know it. Oral tradition. That’s the best kind, of course.
Father Hopkins (1844-1889) was the appointed preacher at a Mass opening up a General Chapter of the Society of Jesus in which some important voting was to take place, meaning he had all the upper echelon of the Jesuits of his day in front of him. He began his intervention by stating rather loudly, rather boisterously: “To hell with the Jesuits!” He repeated that thrice with appropriately ponderous pauses, staring down his colleagues sternly. With the church fuming, just where he wanted them, he then added lightheartedly: “So say the enemies of the Jesuits.” And on he went to give a rousing sermon waking everyone up to greater love of God, of neighbor and of the Society of Jesus. Ha ha ha.
Today we have a Jesuit Pope. And this time that rhetorical device of Hopkins is used once again but this time against the Pope – “To hell with the Pope!” – but for real, meaning, only the first part is reiterated without the disclaimer of “So say the enemies of the Pope.”
This has gotten so out of hand that those who say that the Pope is a heretic privately are now musing that the Pope is likely to be a heretic publicly, you know, in an ex-Cathedra Infallible pronouncement as the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, on a matter of faith or morals, to the universal Church, deciding a controversy dividing the Church.
This is already a wild-eyed heresy on their part – as the dogmatic definition on infallibility means that that just can’t happen – but as to whether these musers are merely materially or actually formally heretics I don’t know. They are pretty smart, I must say. They could just be baiting people, perhaps as Pope Francis is also doing. Or it’s all a purposed parody for the sake of humor making fun of idiots all around. It all gets a bit messy when not even really intelligent people can figure out if its all humor and parody, right? I don’t agree with baiting on faith itself or morality itself, whatever about baiting people to help them see where they are at themselves with faith and morals. Again, pushing people with irony and sarcasm and even name calling is all within the bound, you know, depending, but not risking people being mislead.
Some think that the Pope could actually fail in infallibility and be wrong, but that that’s O.K. as we could just say after the fact that he was no longer Pope when he did that because he was doing that. But infallibility means unfailing. The Pope cannot be wrong when he is speaking with infallibility, you know, as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, on faith or morality to the universal Church, deciding a controversy dividing the Church. The level of ignorance these days is stunning. People flaunt their ignorance. And they are respected as great teachers of orthodox faith. (Vomit here.) The recipe is this: be strident in hatred and win the praise of haters. That’s all they have to bring into eternity.
But some even go on to muse about a solution. It is conjectured that one can gnostically somehow know what God thinks, and then make one’s own pronouncement that the Pope is no longer the Pope because he might someday try to pronounce something that would offend against infallibility. They conjecture that this would be more reasonable if, say, a majority of the Cardinals would speak with such gnosticism, or that a Council called together without the Pope for the same end of pronouncing the Pope now to be an anti-Pope would speak with such gnosticism, speaking, indeed, they think, for God, saying that God Himself has pronounced on this to them, you know, because they just somehow know, gnostically, don’t you know? It’s kind of magic, I guess, like “seeing” something in the old crystal ball or in Tarot cards, or “hearing” spirits from the great beyond speak. Riiiiiight. Suuuuuure.
There is no fessing up to a parody being made. It all just sits there. So: fail. And that makes it all a scandal. Being a heretic is no way to attack heresy. The dogma of infallibility is important. One can’t just throw it away.
So, corrections come in, kind of, with, you know, violence, because might makes right, right? Some answer those musers to say that – Hey! – if God provided for there to be a sign, a physical sign that the Pope was no longer to be the Pope, then – Hey! – it would all be O.K. to just remove him, whatever it takes.
Now it’s getting dangerous. What’s that sign to be? A bullet? Is this a call for assassination of the Holy Father? People should be careful in their heresy. Mind you, historically, heretics are often extremely violent.
We are to stand in solidarity with the Holy Father. We are to pray for him. We are to defend the papacy in the very person of the Pope, for this is where the papacy resides, in the person of Peter, not just some loosely defined “office” of Peter. Get it? That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with whatever throw away sayings of some “dialogue”. I don’t. What it means is that – let me repeat this to be clear – we are to stand in solidarity with the Holy Father, praying for him, defending his very person.