Like much of the Catholic World, I was excited to hear of the election of our new Pope, Francis. However, both his chosen name and his Jesuit background gave me some pause. It is not that either of these things is bad in itself, but there is great potential for undesirable change based upon perverted Franciscan and Jesuitical ideals.
It is not hard to see how a Jesuit could spell trouble for the Church. After all, much of the order has been a malignant, liberal tumor, spreading its heterodoxy since the 70s and making the faithful hopeful for another suppression, or at least for another Loyola, Xavier, Suarez, or Molina. However, what could be wrong with Franciscan ideals; was not St. Francis a model of those virtues to which we are all called as Christians? The answer is simple: there is a grave danger of confusing personal humility with the need for maintaining a visible head of the Church.
Our new Pope seems to think that what the faithful need more than anything is a role model, one who rides buses and scoffs at the honors and privileges afforded to the Vicar of Christ! Well, this is not what we need. We need an uncompromising visible head to hold the Church together, one who will legislate for the common good of the Church Militant, teach correct doctrines in opposition to the impugners of the Truth, and show to all the world the honor and glory due to the Church, established by Christ who is its head.
We also need a Pope who will not part with those traditions which have developed over centuries under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. While rejecting a mozzetta may not seem all that important, remember that it is a symbol of jurisdiction, and if our Holy Father rejects his jurisdiction, then he may as well reject the whole office. Again, while a fancy gold ring may seem the vain desire of a corrupt renaissance pope, remain cognizant of the fact that it is with that ring, pressed in bullion, that the Pope convokes councils and levees excommunications.
I am reminded of a wonderful encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei. Here is an excerpt which, while dealing with the Sacred Liturgy, can be expanded more generally to the ceremonies and actions of the popes:
No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.
…For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.
How clear is it then that while many within (though no true friends of the Church) and without the Church would sing the praises of an attempt to return to the practice of the early Church in toto, the Holy Ghost did not abandon the Church 1500 years ago; rather, He has been ever with us, guiding us through trial and triumph, and no authority can declare invalid all those developments in the Church which have made her the splendor of the world. Many believe that the Church ought to return to the poverty of her early years. These men fail to understand that the early Church’s situation in the first centuries of our Lord’s Incarnation was due to extrinsic circumstances. Its small size and status as an object of persecution by the Roman authorities necessitated its poverty, and those authorities incurred the guilt of sin for their actions. Do they really desire that these extrinsic factors be revived? Or, would they rather that the Church reflect in no way the station that a generous and charitable faithful have permitted her to attain.
If the Pope truly wants to inspire us with his humility, let him wear a hair shirt under his silk cassock, let him sleep on stiff boards after descending from his golden throne, let him strike his body with his own hand in private and keep it ever raised in blessing faithful in public, let him be humble as a man, without senselessly and unjustly humbling the Church, as her persecutors have for millennia!