|With people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: [the answer is] silence, prayer. |
Pope Francis, Homily, September 3, 2018
Pope Francis’ response to Archbishop Vigano’s testimony has, so far, been a sad silence which echoes his silence over the questions about marriage formally presented by some of his cardinals.
If this lack of leadership continues we may see the development of a lame duck papacy.A "lame duck papacy " would, of course, mean that Pope Francis would be a completely powerless pope with no authority. In effect, even though he would still physically occupy the office, Pope Francis would no longer, for all intents and purposes, be pope.
To believe this is even possible, Fr. Longenecker must believe the office of the papacy is comparable to that of an elected official. The huge problem with this is that an elected official, at least in a democracy, gets his power from the people who elected him.
But the Vicar of Christ is not elected by the people, nor does he derive his power from the people and how much they like or support him. The Vicar of Christ receives all of his power and authority from the Holy Spirit. The only One who can "depose" a Pope, or make him a "lame duck pope" (as if that is possible) is the One who made him Pope in the first place: the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Longenecker has either forgotten this or never knew it.
And then there is this problem. If you believe that the Pope has no power, that is the same as believing that no one occupies the Chair of Peter. And what do we call those people?
Fr. Longenecker makes it very clear that he does not want Pope Francis to resign, not for any love for the Holy Father, but for this reason:
I don’t believe it would do the church any good to have three popes. That was a disaster before. It would be a disaster now–even though I realize the circumstances are very different.So Longenecker is concerned for the welfare of the Church, yet he sees no problem with attacking the head of the Church.
So although Fr. Longenecker wants Pope Francis to remain "in office", Longenecker paints a bleak picture of what we have to look forward to:
The problem is, however, that although he will stay, his authority will continue to disintegrate. He may be pope, but many of the faithful will simply ignore him. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the big global papal events that became so popular under John Paul II are quietly scaled down or even discontinued. Of course the shift will be toward a portrayal of the pope as a “warm, personal individual pastor” rather than the global rock star.
. . .
If the Francis papacy gets bogged down under the continued drag of sexual scandal, the effect on the church’s witness to the world will be very sad. If the response to those scandals continues to be listless at best and manipulative and shifty at worst, then the potentially powerful witness of the papacy will be weakened disastrously.
As many of the faithful drift away from paying attention to Pope Francis, the global and historic impact of the papacy will also be undermined. The headlines will still be there as the secular press continue to pump him up, but it [sic] the faithful will simply look away.Longenecker predicts that the "the present papacy [will] splutter and stumble into irrelevancy."
Amazingly, Longenecker actually sees this as a good thing because the disintegration of the papacy means "the rise of what might be called Catholic congregationalism."
I don’t mean congregationalism in the Protestant sense because we believe in the solidarity of all believers. However, that solidarity will emerge from the grass roots in local evangelization and parish building efforts. Apostolates formed by the lay people to catechize, evangelize and minister to the needy will spring up independently of the diocesan structures. Because they are lay led the bishops will endorse them, but not have control over them. They will be local efforts, but they will also network through to other organizations, parishes and apostolates to balance subsidiarity with solidarity.Longenecker is actually calling for secular government to have more authority over the Church than the pope and bishops. I am not saying that there is not a time to call the police. But to actually bypass Church authority in favor of the police goes completely against scripture and Church tradition.
. . .
Therefore, if there is less focus on the pope and the international bureaucracy, this may very well be a godsend to the church.
Such a shift would also be more likely to offer checks and balances to the problem of clergy financial and sexual abuse. Instead of writing to the bishop about Father Feelie the concerned parents can call the police themselves. One good bishop has already said this, “If you have a concern call the police first and me second.”
It should be noted that Longenecker is a Protestant convert, and his proposal right here is nothing less than a return to Protestantism. Longenecker wants to give the people the power to lead the Church. Certainly the election of bishops and even the pope by the people won't be far behind. We will mirror the Anglican church in every respect.
Of course, if Longenecker's prediction comes true, this will mean the end of the papacy forever. Even if there is a man we call "Pope," he will never again have the authority of the Seat of Peter.
Longenecker's view is, in every sense of the word, the destruction of the Catholic Church. Destroy the papacy and you destroy the Church.
And Longenecker thinks this is a good thing:
Pope Francis is fond of pointing out that God is the “God of Surprises”.
God’s surprise in this case may be that the time is ripe to let the pope simply be a rock solid symbol of the faith–the old man in white who prays, keeps quiet, defends the faith, delegates down to the local level and appears at the window once a week to lead the Angelus and wave
To want to reduce the papacy to a "symbol" is to serve the devil.
As I write this, Zuhlsdorf has not yet written about or condoned Longenecker, but I will be very surprised if he doesn't. Bigpulpit.com has linked to it.
Yesterday Pope Francis gave a homily at Mass in which he answers this question. From Zenit.org:
Best reaction to scandal and division? Silence and prayer…
According to Vatican News, during Pope Francis’ first morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta since his summer break, the Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Luke (4:16-30), noting, “the truth is humble, the truth is silent.”As I have pointed out in previous posts, the Gospels show us that Our Lord never argued with his enemies. He never answered their accusations. He never tried to convince them that he was right and they were wrong. This was especially true during His Passion, as Pope Francis points out:
The Gospel tells of when returning to Nazareth, Jesus meets opposition in the synagogue after commenting on a passage from the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Father pointed out Jesus’ silent composure not only in this episode, but also during the Passion.
No prophet, the Pope highlighted, is accepted.
Jesus aroused curiosity at the synagogue. The people had heard of his miracles, and they wanted to see him, but rather than “satisfy their curiosity,” Jesus, the Pope said, uses only “the Word of God”.
When Jesus was confronting the devil, Francis noted, Jesus adopted this attitude. “Jesus’ humility,” he said, “opens the door to his first words meant to construct a bridge but instead sows doubt immediately changing the atmosphere from peace to war, from amazement to fury.”And how does Jesus react to those who oppose him?
To those “who wanted to throw him out of the city,” Jesus responds with silence, the Pope said.
“They were not thinking, they were shouting. Jesus stayed silent… The Gospel passage ends with: ‘But he passed through the midst of them and went away.’”When the people turned on Jesus, and become so angry they actually wanted to throw him off the cliff, Our Lord's only response was silence. He allowed the people to become consumed by their hate, which so completely blinded them that Jesus was able to walk right in the midst of them and to safety. Our Lord did this in complete silence, without a word to anyone.
Pope Francis tells us that we saw this same silent dignity from Jesus on Good Friday:
Jesus’ dignity, Francis continued, shines through this “silence that triumphs over” his attackers. On Good Friday, the Pope observed, the same thing would happen again.
“The people who were saying ‘crucify him’ had praised Jesus on Palm Sunday saying, ‘Blessed are You, Son of David’. They had changed.”Pope Francis tells us that the truth is never loud and forceful. As we are told in I Kings 19, God, who is Truth, whispers to us just as He did to Elijah.
Reflecting on our dignity, the Pope continued saying the truth is humble and silent and is not noisy, acknowledging that what Jesus did is not easy. However, “the dignity of the Christian is anchored in the power of God”.
Even in a family, he said, there are times when division occurs because of “discussions on politics, sports, money”. Pope Francis recommends silence and prayer in these cases.
“With people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: silence, prayer.”
Pope Francis concluded praying: “May the Lord give us the grace to discern when we should speak and when we should stay silent.
“This applies to every part of life: to work, at home, in society…Thus, we will be closer imitators of Jesus.”The Office of the Papacy receives all its power and authority from heaven, as Christ told us in Matthew 16:18-19:
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."Those who are attacking Pope Francis do not seem to accept this scripture. The enemies of Francis feel they have the right to take out the Vicar of Christ and throw him over the cliff. Like the enemies of Christ when He was on earth, the enemies of Francis are completely blinded with their hate.
Since Our Lord is the one who gave the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter, only He has the authority and right to take those Keys away from Peter. All those who are standing in opposition to Pope Francis and attacking Him are, in reality, attacking Jesus Christ.
It is the devil's fondest wish to destroy the Papacy, because to destroy the Papacy is to destroy the Church. People like Fr. Dwight Longenecker are allowing themselves to be tools of Satan, whether they realize it or not.
That is a very harsh statement, but there can be no other answer.
It is a very foolish thing to try to engage in a battle of wills with Satan. He will destroy you every time. When Satan attacks, we do not fight against him. We give that fight to Our Lord, who does battle for us.
As Exodus 14:14 tells us:
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be stillAnd this is exactly how Pope Francis is proceeding. The Holy Father knows that despite the fact that the attacks are against him, this is not his fight. For him to try to battle the demonic would be sure defeat. He knows that only Jesus Christ can win this battle.
And Jesus Christ will win. The gates of hell will not prevail.
The attacks of Vigano's and those who conspired with him are already falling apart, only one week after they launched those attacks. They will not succeed. In fact, their attacks upon the Papacy will only make it stronger.
We are living in very evil times. But it is times like this that we see the Power of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit more clearly than ever.
"Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph 6:12).If you are confused, then stand still.
But standing still does not mean doing nothing. Even though Our Lord fights for us, we still need to suit up for battle.
Ephesians 6 tells us to stand, but to stand clothed in the armor of battle:
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;Allow God to fight this battle. That is the only way you can be sure to be on the right side.