, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today we will delve into the topic of “theological structuring” since it has become quite the hot topic and much in the news lately. To be more precise, there have been a number of developments in this new and exciting, not to mention previously unheard of discipline of neo-modernist theology, developments that this blog would like to run through its Peirce/Ockham pragmatic methodological framework. (see here)

But before we get into the subject matter, a short introduction is in order. If you dear reader will recall from our Man Marking Marx series, the term “man marking” is an English soccer expression that means to stay close to a “specific opponent to hamper his play”. So today, the Deus Ex Machina blog will pick up and be man marking Victor Manuel Fernandez, the titular Archbishop of Tiburnia and the President of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. And coincidentally, the ghost writer for the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and the present bishop of Rome.

The logical place, for the purposes of this post is to begin with the interview that Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) gave to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. The Vatican Insider provides us with the relevant passage: (see here) [emphasis added]

“The arrival of a theologian like Benedict XVI in the Chair of St. Peter was no doubt an exception. But John XXIII was not a professional theologian. Pope Francis is also more pastoral and our mission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to provide the theological structure of a pontificate.” So according to Müller’s statement, the former Holy Office must “theologically structure” Pope Francis’ pontificate. And this is probably the reason why the Prefect gives public statements on such a frequent basis, like never before.

So the above words of Card. Muller were the genesis of the function of “theological structuring of a pontificate”, a new and exciting novelty theological area of FrancisChurch and a task “on-boarded” at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican Insider observed the following:

In one of the numerous interviews he has given over the past few weeks focusing on the next Synod, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke about a new task for his dicastery. It is a task that is never been mentioned in the documents outlining the precise competencies of the former Holy Office.

So this was the state of play until the 10th of May 2015. It was on this day that the Universal Church was notified that not everyone within the FrancisChurch hierarchy is happy with “theological structuring” of the Francis pontificate. Actually, Francis himself might not be happy with this new development brought about by the organic (?) evolution of post VII doctrine. The notifying party was none other than the titular Archbishop of Tiburnia and the President of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Victor Manuel Fernandez.  Here is how Archbishop Fernandez explained the position of FrancisChurch with respect to “theological structuring” of the Francis papacy via the Radical Catholic blog: (see here)

I have read that some say that the Roman Curia is an essential part of the mission of the Church, or that a Prefect in the Vatican is the sure compass preventing the Church from falling into ignominy, or that this Prefect guarantees the unity of the Faith and facilitates serious theology from the Pope. But Catholics know from reading the Gospel that it was to the Pope and the Bishops that Christ granted a special governance and enlightenment – and not to a Prefect or some other structure. When one hears such things, one could almost get the impression that the Pope is merely their representative, or one who has come to disturb and must, therefore, be monitored. […] The Pope is convinced that what he has written or said cannot be treated as an error. Therefore, all these things can be repeated in the future, without having to fear receiving a sanction for it.

So there you have it. Follow-up question is what do you do with a paragraph like this?

It is here that a methodological approach, such as through the Peirce/Ockham pragmatic framework becomes indispensable. Therefore, let’s start separating the wheat from the chaff, shall we?

I will leave the completely ridiculous and absurd assertion that whatever musings come out of the mouth of the bishop of Rome is equivalent to the “written Word”,  for another post or two where I can do it justice. However, I will once again provide you dear reader to the link of the interview with Senor Jack Tollers that quite neatly, explains the state of Argentinean theology and by extension a couple products of this “theological school”. Remember, Occam’s razor posits that “With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one”.

The issue I want to address in this post is the “Francis don’t need no stinking theological structuring” part. And in this respect, what Archbishop Fernandez claims to be the case, i.e. that it was to the Pope and the Bishops that Christ granted a special governance and enlightenment – and not to a Prefect or some other structure”, is a TRUE statement.

To support this assertion, we go over to the VASSALLO MALTA blog, where this exact question as put to Fr. Benoît-Dominique de La Soujeole, OP, a Dominican of the Province of Toulouse, France. Since 1992 he has been a member of the editorial board of authoritative journal La Revue thomiste de philosophie e de théologie. Since 1999 he has held the title of Professor of dogmatic theology (Church and sacraments) at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), where he is also Prior of the Dominican monastery of St. Albertus Magnus. (see here)

The following question was put to Fr. Benoit-Dominique:

Individual Pope figures aside, can the Successor of Peter’s ministry be considered theologically “lacking” and in need of a certain “theological structuring” by individuals other than the Pope?

Certainly not! The Pope has everything it takes to enounce the faith of the Church. The Congregation De doctrina fidei helps the Pope in the preparation and implementation phases but the “crux” consists in enouncing the faith of the Church and this is the Pope’s very own and personal ministry. By “structuring”, Cardinal Müller may have meant this, above all preparatory, work.

From the above, it looks pretty straightforward with respect to the “theological structuring” issue. The correct answer is indeed that, and paraphrasing again, Francis doesn’t need no stinking theological structuring since Francis “has everything it takes to enounce the faith of the Church”.

In Catholic doctrine at least!

But in practice, the case appears to be completely different.

Which brings me to this next passage which describes how Sandro Magister broke the news of the new global warming/cooling/changing encyclical will be delayed. Here is the relevant passage: (see here)

According to Vaticanist Sandro Magister [LINK], Pope Francis has decided to postpone the publication of his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. The reason, according to Magister, is that the Pope realized that the document in its current state had no chance of receiving the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under the leadership of Cardinal Gerhard Müller. If it seems somewhat improper for a Cardinal to be telling a Pope what he can and can’t write, don’t fret, gentle reader: the text wasn’t written by Pope Francis at all.

The below is the actual wording of Magister’s passage as it reads on his Italian language blog:

Perché lui passa come grande teologo, anzi, come il teologo di riferimento di papa Francesco, il suo consigliere più insigne, il suo ghostwriter sin da quando era arcivescovo di Buenos Aires. Nell’estate del 2013 si stabilì a Roma per scrivere con Francesco la “Evangelii gaudium”; e poi ancora vi si è stanziato lo scorso marzo nella settimana che il papa s’era ritagliata per scrivere la prossima enciclica sull’ecologia. Da Santa Marta è trapelato però che Francesco abbia cestinato la bozza che Fernández gli aveva confezionato, forse presago, il papa, che il cardinale Müller l’avrebbe poi comunque demolita, una volta avutala tra le mani.

Here is my translation of the questionable bit:

It has emerged from Santa Marta [FrancisChurch HQ], however, that Francis has trashed the draft that Fernández had prepared, perhaps foreboding for the pope, the cardinal Müller would then still demolished it, once having received it in his hands.

It is therefore correct to imply that Francis’ “foreboding”, or the strong inner feeling or notion of a future misfortune that card. Muller would “demolish” Archbishop Fernandez’s text was brought about by some form of “extra magisterial” arrangement between the two men. Therefore, it is correct to say, as Edward Pentin states that: (see here)

The Vatican has denied that Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical has been delayed because the Holy Father feared the first draft would not be approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

In other words, it is correct to say that there appears to be a causal relationship between what is written in the eco encyclical and an approval from the new “theological structuring” facility at the CDF is required. Furthermore, this is contrary  with Archbishops Fernandez’s assertion, and the TRUE and correct assertion that: “it was to the Pope and the Bishops that Christ granted a special governance and enlightenment – and not to a Prefect or some other structure.”

However, to both the Archbishops chagrin and dismay, this proper and TRUE understanding of the relationship between the Petrine office and the CDF (Roman Curia) does not appear to reflect reality within the Vatican’s Sacred Walls.

Concluding, what inferences can be drawn from the above?

First inference is obviously that Francis has created a theological mess. When taking into account the Spaemann, Joas and Tollers observations that we laid out in our previous post (see here), it is apparent that card. Muller had to take it upon himself to create a new and never before heard of function at the CDF on account of Francis’ and his advisers incompetence.

To be more precise, the incompetence that we are referring two is on two levels. First is the incompetence of using a theologically unsound ghostwriter and next, the incompetence of not being able to discern that which the ghostwriter has written. To prove this last assertion, please recall that Fernandez was the ghostwriter behind the Apostolic Exhortation Evagelii Gaudium, a document that poor card. Burke still doesn’t know exactly what to make of.

The next inference is that Francis feels “bound” to put the document past the Prefect of the CDF for the Prefects approval. This is highly unusual since we recall that a pope, an absolute sovereign has all the necessary faculties to produce any document that he wishes to produce, even ones that other cardinals and bishops do not know what to make of. Here is the relevant text from the VASSALLO MALTA blog post cited above for the record:

The Pope has everything it takes to enounce the faith of the Church. The Congregation De doctrina fidei helps the Pope in the preparation and implementation phases but the “crux” consists in enouncing the faith of the Church and this is the Pope’s very own and personal ministry. By “structuring”, Cardinal Müller may have meant this, above all preparatory, work.

This point cannot be stressed strongly enough!

Next, the observation that Francis appears to have “bound” himself to an approval from the CDF, an approval that he doesn’t need, goes a long way in suggesting that Francis’ power over the Curia and the Vatican apparatus has been limited. One supporting assumption to this new situation is the firing of Archbishop Fernandez. If you recall dear reader, Francis would not remove Msgr Ricca from the IOR and is still living at the hotel that is managed by this notorious deviant (see here), whose transgressions were of a much more serious nature. But two years on and one disastrous Secret Synod of Bishops later, it would appear that now, terms are being dictated to Francis.

It is as if a palace coup has taken place and we have a puppet monarch on the throne?

And the price for that appears to have been paid by the monarch, is the “suspension of the Francis revolution”?

It would go a long way in explaining the Magister and Gagliarducci observations outlined in the The Cruelest “god” of All post.

Given the above, the question arises: what in the wild, wild world of sports is going on here?

For the answer, tune in tomorrow and the next day and most likely a few more days after that.

But one thing is for certain. Francis has brought the reality that is South American governance into the Sacred Walls of the Vatican and squarely into the middle of the Universal Church.

Post scriptum:

In the mean time, please familiarize yourselves, dear readers with the following definitions:

A coup d’etat is defined as follows: (see here) with emphasis

A coup d’état (/ˌkdˈtɑː/ (About this sound listen ); French: blow of state; plural: coups d’état), also known as a coup, a putsch[citation needed], or an overthrow, is the sudden and illegal seizure of a government,[1][2][3] usually instigated by a small group of the existing state establishment to depose the established government and replace it with a new ruling body. A coup d’état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. If a coup fails, a civil war may ensue.

We are obviously referring to what is commonly called a “soft coup d’etat” or what is termed as a “veto coup d’etat” where the visible figurehead is not removed, but he loses this sovereign powers, while the soldiers Curia plays the role of “guardian of the existing order”.

And a puppet monarch is defined as follows: (see here)

A puppet monarch is a majority figurehead who is installed or patronized by an imperial power in order to provide the appearance of local authority, while allowing political and economic control to remain among the dominating nation.

Figurehead monarch, as source of legitimacy and possibly divine reign, has been the used form of government in several situations and places of history.

There are two basic forms of using puppets as monarchs (rulers, kings, emperors):

figurehead: the monarch is a puppet of another person or a group in the country, who are ruling instead of the nominal ruler.

puppet government under a foreign power.