I remember at his election people, including your’s truly, were all anticipating this huge smackdown on progressives. However, we have seen nothing of the sort, which leads me to ask this question. Exactly how Orthodox is Benedict XVI?
the catholic church is a world wide “organization” with over a billion “members”. things move slowly in an organization that big.
Your title asks a different question. Conservative doe not equal orthodoxy.
For two counterexamples (IMHO :twocents: )
For instance it is orthodox to believe it would be advisable to routinely ordain married men to the priesthood, but it would not be conservative.
It would be conservative to believe that the Mass should always be in Latin, but it would not be orthodox.
Alright, then how conservative is the Holy Father?
I think he’s more conservative than JPII and somewhat liberal in his own way.
What you have to understand is that “Conservatism and Liberalism/Progressivism” are both forms of Liberalism.
The idea is that Liberalism unrestrained will not be successful so, it needs conservatism to hold it back while people get used to it.
Pope St. Pius X pointed this out and condemned it in his God-given blockbuster encyclical Pascendi:
*Finally, evolution in the Church itself is fed by the need of adapting itself to historical conditions and of harmonizing itself with existing forms of society. Such is their view with regard to each. And here, before proceeding further, We wish to draw attention to this whole theory of necessities or needs, for beyond all that we have seen, it is, as it were, the base and foundation of that famous method which they describe as historical.
- Although evolution is urged on by needs or necessities, yet, if controlled by these alone, it would easily overstep the boundaries of tradition, and thus, separated from its primitive vital principle, would make for ruin instead of progress. Hence, by those who study more closely the ideas of the Modernists,** evolution is described as a resultant from the conflict of two forces, one of them tending towards progress, the other towards conservation. **The conserving force exists in the Church and is found in tradition; tradition is represented by religious authority, and this both by right and in fact. By right, for it is in the very nature of authority to protect tradition: and in fact, since authority, raised as it is above the contingencies of life, feels hardly, or not at all, the spurs of progress. The progressive force, on the contrary, which responds to the inner needs, lies in the individual consciences and works in them – especially in such of them as are in more close and intimate contact with life. Already we observe, Venerable Brethren, the introduction of that most pernicious doctrine which would make of the laity the factor of progress in the Church. Now it is by a species of covenant and compromise between these two forces of conservation and progress, that is to say between authority and individual consciences, that changes and advances take place. The individual consciences, or some of them, act on the collective conscience, which brings pressure to bear on the depositories of authority to make terms and to keep to them.
With all this in mind, one understands how it is that the Modernists express astonishment when they are reprimanded or punished. What is imputed to them as a fault they regard as a sacred duty. *
I don’t think Pope Benedict XVI’s “orthodoxy” should be put into question. I just wonder what “orthodoxy” means to you?
If Pope Benedict is orthodox, it should not matter how conservative he is? Conservative is not the equivalent of orthodox.
Sometimes it is best for peace not to “lay the smackdown” on people. We celebrated the memorial of a papal saint just recently (Tuesday, I believe) who demonstrated this truth–St. Sixtus II. Pope St. Stephen I have been dealing very harshly with the African bishops who held to the doctrine that heretics needed to be re-baptized. Pope St. Stephen I threatened to excommunicate them all. However, he died (I think he was martyred) and Pope St. Sixtus II was raised to the Chair of St. Peter. St. Sixtus II upheld the traditional teaching against re-baptism, but he tolerated it in order not to have a massive schism. In time, the issue worked itself out. Pope St. Damasus I and Pope St. Leo IX took similar approaches in later centuries, despite the petitions for harsh action by Sts. Basil and Jerome and St. Peter Damian, respectively.
I think we can see the huge schisms still with us which are so difficult to heal and we also see that history shows patience can be better than mass excommunications in times of crisis.
Thanks for posting this GerardP. I had forgotten about this passage. I am always trying to explain why both these terms are harmful when applied to Catholicism–this passage says it brilliantly
Remember: He’s the pope of the ENTIRE Church, not just those who want the Latin Mass or a “smackdown on progressives” or married priests or anything else.
As someone not even a Christian remarked at the time of his election, “There’s a big difference between being the watchdog of the Church [as he was as head of CDF] and being the Pope of the Church.” The last thing the Shepherd wants to do is spook the sheep.
As far as his “orthodoxy” or “conservativeness,” I should think this can easily be discerned in his writings.
Please keep this discussion to the issue of conservativism/liberalism not the orthodoxy of the pope. Thank you.
He’s very conservative, and he’s orthodox. But…that isn’t necessarily the be all and end all of an evaluation.
Orthodoxy means, essentially, that he isnt a heretic. And he’s not. He holds, at least minimally (and this pope* more* than just minimally), all the dogmas of the faith. That is what is generally meant by “orthodox;” non-heterodox. And Popes can be heretics, and have been, but are protected by the Holy Spirit from declaring their heresy ex cathedra. This Pope, however, is not a heretic.
Conservative, however, is a relative term meaning that one is averse to change. That one likes the current status quo and present agenda in an institution. That one is allied with the least-progressive, least-revolutionary forces. And this Pope is. He is extremely conservative.
But that is not necessarily the best thing, as traditionalists know. Because a revolution can be in either direction. It can seek to move farther left into the future than “mainstream” liberalism wants…but it can also seek to move farther right, backwards into a past state that is no longer seen as mainstream.
And while this Pope certainly doesn’t want any leftward innovations or revolutions…he also is firmly committed to the changes that took place in the past few decades and are now the mainstream status quo.
In that sense, he is conservative, but not traditional. Because the agenda he seeks to conserve…was itself extremely liberal just 40 years ago.
That’s the problem with “conservativism”. It refuses to be reactionary. Which is what is sometimes needed.
Otherwise, sheer mathematics will show that liberalism will always eventually triumph.
Because liberalism strives to take positive steps leftward. It seeks to move farther and farther left.
But all conservativism does is try to slow this movement, maybe even ideally stop it. But that never moves us right again.
Conservativism may cause liberalism to only take one step left when it was trying to take five…but conservativism itself never attempts to take any steps right once that ground has been lost!!:mad: So conservativism slows the advance of the liberal mindset, but the liberals know that slow movement left still means eventual movement far left. So they can wait.
Classical liberalism (which includes the entire current political spectrum in America) created a political dynamic of steady movement leftward, perhaps slowed by the “conservatives”…but yet never actually reversing direction. Slowed, but always inevitably making some gains leftward.
Conservatism then is an impotent ideology. All it does is keep the decay of civilization at bay, tries to stop as many little collapses in the collective sanity as possible. But once something collapses, conservatism never tries to rebuild. It tries to slow the collapse, but never reverse it.
In that sense then I would say that conservatism is even an outright ideological ally of liberalism, helping to moderate it, helping to make it more palatable to the populace, helping it to burn at a more sustainable rate, as it were, but never extinguishing it or trying to recover what it has already taken.
Conservatism tries to slow or stop more ground from being lost to liberalism…but never actually tries to regain any of that ground by taking any positive steps back in the rightward direction.
Therefore, what we need now if civilization is to be saved…are reactionaries, not conservatives.
Therefore, what we need now if civilization is to be saved…are reactionaries, not conservatives. People willing to move “backwards” out of belief in an absolute ideology, not merely people clingingly desperately and impotently to the status quo in the hopes of merely slowing the leftward march of recent history as much as possible. We need people willing to try to reverse change, not merely prevent more change. People willing to return to a healthier model of civilization (ie, Christendom) from the past…not merely trying to keep things like they are.
The present is too small to fight the future. The present can slow the future, but it will inevitably make gains unless we pull positively in the pastward direction.
Adding zeroes to an accumulating string of numbers will slow it’s growth, sure, but you need to add negative numbers to actually start reducing it.
Not releasing any more pollution, or as little as possible, will stop or slow the accumulation of pollution…but it won’t get rid of any of the pollution that already exists unless positive steps are taken to reverse the old pollution.
Things need to be made BETTER, not merely stopped from getting worse!
Acting as a passive dead-weight in a tug of war can slow the other side from winning…but if they keep pulling, their little gains will add up to an eventually win unless you ACTIVELY pull in the OTHER direction.
Conservatism then, is a passive and effeminate position to take. Refusing to participate in any more evil perhaps, but too scared to take a stand against that which has already piled up in the mainstream. Declining to go any further on our civilization’s death-march, but too cowardly to actually try to regain ground and move positively backwards.
It takes time to replace bishops, but he has recently put in a very nice replacement in the Louisville archdioceses, and hopefully this archdiocese will finally be reformed.
I think if Pope Benedict XVI lives a 'very 'long life, and I pray he does, the single biggest effect of his papacy will be in the reforms he makes with his appointments that will make the difference. For the sake of the Church in the USA, I hope so.
Isn’t the term “conservative” always relative to what you are talking about? A conservative American is much different than a conservative Catholic.
Within Catholicism, being orthodox and a conservative are the same. Being an orthodox/conservative Catholic and being a traditional Catholic are totally different.
Totally different? Traditonalists are conservative in nature.
I would have to disagree with that statement. One need not be “conservative”, which has no Catholic definition that I’m aware of, to be “orthodox”. One need simply not be heterodox to be orothodox. There are conservative Catholics who are not orthodox just as there are “liberal” or “progressive” Catholics who are not orthodox.
“Liberal” likewise is not a Catholic term, and “progressive” can mean any number of things in terms of Catholocism. Thomas Aquainas was “progressive” in bringing Catholocism forward in its understanding, though I don’t know of anyone who would consider him not orthodox.