Monday, July 24, 2017
I am not sure, like most Catholic clergy nowadays, that the Orthodox are not Catholic or part of the Catholic Church, as one might say the churches founded in the sixteenth century are not, or those without valid sacraments are not. Of course those who receive baptism are always in some sense part of the Catholic Church, even if after baptism they go into schism. With the 'two lung' theory one might suggest that the Catholic Church itself is deficient without a unity of East and West and the Orthodox would say the same, hence the reaching out of East and West.
In practice one could even suggest that the Great Schism of 1054 only came into effect in 1870 with Vatican I. Until then there seemed to a fair degree of inter-communion, even the acceptance of mutual jurisdiction, Orthodox nuns sought out Jesuit confessors, even Orthodox declarations of marriage dissolution/divorce* were often accepted in most parts of Italy and most of parts of the Catholic world east of Italy. And although as in the Eucharist we might have expressed our theology very differently that these expressions were actually cultural rather than actually an expression of different beliefs, ultimately we could both say, "this is Jesus".
Yesterday I was listening to Austin Ivereigh on the BBC, the self appointed Papal apologist, who was speaking about the 'reception or non-reception' of Amoris Laetitia and the Holy Father's teaching or even reign and in Saturday's L'Osservatore there was this fascinating article which speaks of the Italian clergy, high and low opposing Francis. The inference being the Pope was a goody the clergy baddies and ignorant too. Historically that is not how the Church works and this article will probably only serve to highlight the isolation of the Pope and encourage others to speak about it.
I rarely agree with Ivereigh, I often wonder if the Pope does but I think that his reference to'reception' is important. In the West we have a very feudal and increasingly from the US a presidential attitude to authority, which sees it coming down from above and is imposed on those below. The Orthodox approach is I suspect a little more 'Catholic', certainly patristic, it is that Councils and Bishops teach but this is their teaching not the Church's belief until it is accepted by the whole Church (St Vincent of Lerrins, Catholic faith is that believed always, everywhere and by all).
Thus 'The Faith' is the belief of the whole Church and certainly not a few of its hierarchy. Indeed a Pope or Bishop cannot identify themselves as the Church they are ultimately as significant or insignificant as anyone else. Newman interestingly wrote after Vatican I that what the non placet party did and what happened to them was of great importance, obviously he was interested in the long term reception of the teaching Vatican I, post Vatican II we might be thinking not of Old Catholics but of the East too.
In the early days of this Pope's reign when he so often described himself not as Pope but as Bishop of Rome I thought that we might move to an understanding papacy acceptable to the lungs of both East and West, in line with Patristic teaching, and what I would say was in line with truly Catholic sentiment. A bishop has authority only because he acts in communion with his diocese and with the Church Catholic (the Church in Heaven and on Earth). The Bishop of Rome is no different, indeed than being President of the Church or even its monarch he is the servant of the servants, a title little used nowadays.
I have been bashed by a notorious sedevacantist recently; no rational person would question the election of Francis, he is Pope, despite the manipulations of the St Gallen group. What is a much more a Catholic concern is the acceptance of Francis' teaching, ultimately how the Church will remember him, indeed if it will remember him at all or as little more than a brief historical throwback or curio. Remembering or not remembering is how the Western Church really deals teaching from above, from Councils, Popes and Bishops.
If the L'Osservatore article is correct, and there is no reason to imagine that it is not, or that it is just reserved to Rome or Italy, it would seem that despite popular acclaim of journalists and those outside or the edge of the Church that the clergy as it says 'high and low' -and presumably the committed laity- will quickly forget Francis, most of them of course will still continue when Francis moulders silently in his tomb amongst his predecessors.
'In the end the Lord wins'.
*On the Orthodox divorce practice, I had a discussion with an Orthodox priest who said, it was practice of Orthodoxy but not its belief because it was plainly contrary to scripture and contrary to Orthodox practice, generally, of lifelong loving Orthodox marriages and therefore it could not be deemed 'accepted or received Orthodox teaching'.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Some argue it is not possible for us to be free, it is the argument that 1970’s Jesuits put forward to argue that mortal sin was impossible. The argument would run that an adulterer was not entirely free because of an inner compulsion, or because “she tempted me”, when he committed adultery.
Another example would be to say a woman was not “free” when she made a decision to abort her baby because she couldn’t cope financially or couldn’t have time out from her career or she simply had a dislike of baby poo or didn’t want her figure spoilt. I am sure that most women have stronger reasons than these for making such a terrible decision but a catholic would argue that these reasons mitigated her culpability but could not say that she did not make a free decision to have the child in her womb killed, even if the alternative was her own death.
The same situation would exist behind the decision of someone whose wife and children were being tortured until he rejected Christ and accepted some Satanic or pagan cult. The Church would still judge him to be free. Our faith indeed sets us free, “for freedom, Christ has set us free” Gal 5:1 because for us freedom is always orientated towards God, even for unbelievers it is orientated to God via the natural law, we know by our nature what is right or wrong and are orientated, despite the external pressures, to act accordingly.
I am still contending with the “2+2=5” sedevacantist. He argues as many of his kind do that: Canon 332§2: If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone, would suggest that Pope Benedict's resignation was not free and therefore not valid.
He has a very modernist, uncatholic understanding of “freely”. It does not mean there is no pressure, that rarely happens with any human decision, it means simply that the decision is made “freely”, that is 'in Christ'.
One could argue that Pius XII’s resignation letter, that he wrote to come into effect if he was taken prisoner by Germans, would not have been a ‘free’ decision but this was of a very different character to Benedict XVI’s resignation, Pius’ hand was forced by the threat of his capture, possible drugging and manipulation. Benedict’s decision was made, as he himself has said and repeated frequently, freely, in conformity with Canon 332§2.
What is worrying here is a self appointed judge of Popes, should be so lacking in basic Catholic principles, which a few decades ago a child making his First Confession would be expected to understand.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Some, supply your own adjective, here, quotes me and then suggests I am suggesting that Pope Benedict did not resign ‘freely’ with the implication, presumably therefore that Francis is not a validly elected Pope, that is nonsense.
It is the type of logic coming from Roman courtiers who can make 2+2=5. Let me be quite clear Benedict was Pope, he is not now; Francis is Pope both de facto and also de jure, it is Francis I pray for at Mass, not Benedict or anyone else.
This 2+2=5er suggests I am suggesting Benedict did not resign ‘freely’ that is blatant lie. Very few of us act with absolute freedom; age, advice or pressure from others, fear or even threats might well influence our decisions but unless someone was physically forcing Benedict’s hand to write his name at the foot of his resignation, and pressed his seal to it amidst squeals of protestation, he did indeed act ‘freely’.
There is a great deal of nonsense written by these sort of sedevacantists or quasi- sedevacantists. The truth is that the Pope is the one who sits on the cathedra of Peter, possibly there might be doubt if there is a squabble over at the inaugural Mass or in the past the Coronation, no such thing happened with Francis, there is no anti-Pope and no alternative. Benedict’s resignation was followed by his filial acceptance of Francis’ election. Though one might regret he is no longer Pope, that does not mean anything: Francis is Pope, there is no other.
A great deal is said by some about JPII’s rules for a Papal Election, they do not alter the fact that Francis is also the Supreme Lawgiver, having been acknowledge as Pope by the College of Electors, the clergy and people of Rome, and the bishops, clergy and laity of the world, he alone has the ability to judge the validity of his election and whether it fulfilled JPII’s rules. Obviously he judges his election to be valid and Benedict’s resignation to be valid and legitimate.
I suppose Traditionalists might prefer older forms of election, there are plenty of good examples from history of the electors being coerced: an army bearing down on Rome happened from time to time, bribing the electors happened, the imprisonment or deaths of opposing cardinal electors happened, none of which invalidated any Papal election. Indeed even when there were three popes it seems at least in here in England all three were included in the Canon of the Mass.
Forgive me if this sounds angry but whilst I am happy to be quoted by anyone, even if the disagree with me, I think I have the right to be quoted accurately and not have my words deliberately misinterpreted - it is called 'honesty' and 'having integrity'.
The last time I looked this mischief maker or is it just a fool had not put up my correction or removed or corrected the post.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Mr Gibson, the mad Scots maths teacher used to drag boys around his classroom by their ears or their hair until they fell to the floor, causing as much pain as possible or slammed their foreheads against their desks. Miss Streeter, who became Mrs Holland, the fat French teacher would make boys put their heads in their desks and then sit on the desk. Mr Shin, the lunatic Games teacher was not adverse to having a whole class bend over in the gym and hitting them on their thin cotton shorts with an old gym shoe. Mrs Barter who taught pottery and design was happy to slash boys across the hand with the edge of a steel ruler. Both the headmaster and his deputy regularly caned boys. I suppose it could be a reason I have avoided maths and French and games and pots and had difficulty with institutions.
This happened in the 1970’s, schools were places of violence, fear and humiliation. There were good teachers but I suspect they avoided even thinking about the teaching methods of their violent and bullying colleagues, but we boys never spoke of these things, certainly not to adults. I suspect this was the case with George Ratzinger at Regensburger Domspatzen, he has already admitted to using violence on boys. I would find it difficult to imagine that German schools were much better than
English schools. My school experiences compared to those of friends who attended the better public schools like Eton or Downside and Ampleforth was pretty moderate, for the time.
My theory about Benedict XVI’s resignation is that one key factor was the threat that his brother George might be implicated not only in the physical abuse but also in the sexual abuse of school pupils. Even if it was untrue, a Pope who had made it his work to deal with the cases of sexual abuse and the dismissal of abusers from the clerical state would be placed in an untenable situation if his beloved brother was caught up sex abuse scandal. Mud would have stuck and clung more deeply to the Church, he would have become the Pope with the abusing brother.
If one adds papers and objects being removed from Benedict’s own study, his blindness in one eye and increasing lameness, the pressure from groups like St Gallen mafia and Cardinal Martini, as well as his own desire to move away from Papacy of his larger than life immediate predecessors and return it to the restrictive fences laid around it by the First Vatican Council, his resignation would seem entirely reasonable.
I haven’t read anything positive about Fr Spadaro’s little piece on Catholicism in America, there might be something somewhere. Perhaps the best response is Archbishop Chaput’s which can be read here.
Adjectives describe Spadaro as naïve, stuck in the 1970’s, intellectually weak or just plain ignorant. What is alarming is that Spadaro seems to be emerging as the Holy Father’s principle adviser. There is an anti- intellectualism abroad in the Church, a failure to analyse or question or to take into account scholarship of any sort, ‘peer-review’ seems out of the question, it was one of the problems of a self-opinionated autocracy.
It reduces the Church to something that lacks rationality. The paedophilia crisis demonstrated, for many, the Church has little moral credibility, silly statements from the likes of Spadaro seem to demonstrate the Church has no intellectual authority either. How long until it is finally revealed that the emperor is completely naked?
In telling the truth, in morality, in the intellectual world it is important that Catholics occupy the high ground.
Monday, July 17, 2017
One of the worst evils is keeping silent in the face of evil, the Church seems full of men who are too weak, too effete to condemn what is wrong. This was the great scandal of child abuse, men who turned a blind eye to the immorality of others, who covered their eyes and refused to see the abuse around them, who covered their ears to pleas for justice and gagged themselves and refused to speak either to denounce grave sin or to protect the innocent.
Silence signifies acquiescence. When it hides serious sins or crimes it makes us accomplices and equally damnable with the perpetrator. The silence of so many bishops and priests in the face of the teaching of error is grave wound on the Body of Christ.
It is true sometimes silence can be an act of prudence, especially if one doesn't know the facts. It might have been prudent for the Holy Father to have kept silent when he accused the government of a South American country of being complicit in the kidnapping and possible murder of someone who was actually a government soldier kidnapped by a rebel faction.
In the case of St Thomas More's silence on Royal Supremacy, though he refused to sign, but then even with More his silence, unlike Fisher's outspokenness, gave rise to some finding an excuse to accept Royal Supremacy. Perhaps here we see the difference between the prudence a married man with dependants should exercise over following God's will, and the freedom celibacy gives. Though ultimately both More and Fisher ended on the executioner's block, and contemporaries said, 'said his silence echoed like thunder throughout Europe'.
I came in for a little criticism recently, when I wrote, "I certainly don't trust Monsignori or anyone who is not willing to back up a damaging statement about the Pope without being willing to put his name to it". Some people suggested the climate of fear in the Vatican at the moment justified anonymity for fear of losing one's career or pension or the esteem of superiors or colleagues. These are not the arguments of those who trust in God.
It is certainly praiseworthy to bear one's own suffering in silence but to be silent when others suffer is not a Christian option, it is sinful.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
"You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears, understand with their heart,
and be converted and be healed by me."
It is easy for a preacher to forget these verses from Isiah that Our Lord quotes, and to concentrate on sowers and seeds but before we get there we have remember the effort a first century farmer would have to put into the land before it could be cultivated.
Even if his forefathers had cleared the land of vegetation it was an annual struggle to clear it of weeds, to dig out the rocks and stones that just keep coming up, to ensure the irrigation ditches are clear, to repair the fences to keep out his or his neighbour's livestock.
Before tractors it was not too difficult if you were rich and had an ox or donkey but if you had to rely on your wife and children to pull the plough or simply had to dig it yourself it was back-breaking work. Seed too was expensive, what you sowed you didn't eat, at least not until the new harvest, and you sowed in the hungry times when what you stored for the winter was coming to an end - you didn't want to waste it - it was seed taken from your children's mouths.
Therefore before we consider anything else let us consider the soil - soil of the soul.
How can we listen and understand?
See and perceive?
How do we stop our hearts growing course?
Make our hearing less dull, open our eyes?
Indeed, how do we hear with our ears, understand with our hearts so that we are converted and healed by him?
We are supposed take as much care over the care of our souls as a farmer of Jesus' time took over the care of his soil.
First we need to stay close to Jesus, to irrigate our souls with the Sacraments and the Word of God, to stay close to the Church's constant teaching.
We need to get rid of the rocks, those hard places in our lives where the Gospel can't grow, the deep seated, heavy sins - that really can be backbreaking work.
We need to uproot the weeds, the evils in lives, the gossip, the hatred, the keeping silent in the face of evils done to others.
We need to fertilize the soil with good works, yes prayer again, frequent confession, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, acts of charity and generosity.
We are not doing this work alone, God is with us in this strenuous work, so is the great Mother of God, as too the angels and saints -read the lives of the saints- they prepared the soil in their own fields, they were experts in clearing the soil of the soul.
God wants us to be successful. He is the sower scattering the precious seed of his grace into our hearts, he wants it to grow producing a rich harvest in our lives.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Did you believe the story about the Pope submitting his five dubia to Cardinal Mueller? No nor did I, I just don't believe the stories that begin Monsignor A told Bishop B that Cardinal C had said the Pope has said or done Y. I do my best not to listen to gossip, and not to report it. If we can't try to speak the truth we are unlikely to be faithful witnesses to Christ, we have an obligation to speak the truth even if it costs us dearly in order to be credible.
I certainly don't trust Monsignori or anyone who is not willing to back up a damaging statement about the Pope without being willing to put his name to it, especially as in this case it was also about someone like Cardinal Mueller who is quite able to state frankly his own case and has a certain reputation of being honourable. Passing on this kind of 'fake news' is trading in filth, I find it as scandalous as stories about sexual deviants having parties in the Vatican.
Poor Pope Francis has to battle as much against with his friends as against his enemies, many of the more vociferous on both side are pretty unpleasant, they contaminate with their filthy lies those who listen to them and pass on in all innocence what they have heard. Simply, the Gospel allow it and threatens judgement against those who do it!
There is a very good podcast by Damien Thompson and Fr Ed Conlon at the end of this piece in the Spectator. Fr Ed hits the nail by saying that invariably liberal commentators misinterpret the Pope, it is not just journalists but as is discussed even revamped the Academy for Life came out with a statement regarding not keeping little Charlie Gard alive by extending his treatment, whilst the Pope, the very next day invited the family to Rome for further treatment.
One of the great problems with every court is that courtiers tend to fail to understand the thinking of the Prince, which means of course one moment you can be by his side giving advice and the next in a cage on the roof Castel Sant'Angelo exposed to the elements. The other thing about courtiers is they are often very nasty people, they put their trust in princes and not in the Lord. To see this today one only has to look at Twitter to see the abusive or gloating comments of those who claim to be close to the Pope today. If they judge a man to be an enemy of Francis there is no end to the vilification and bile.
The more unpredictable or incoherent a prince becomes the more violent and malevolent become those who surround him, of course they wish to control him, in the case of the current Pope this probably impossible, in the words of Cardinal Pell, 'he is unique'.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Just seen the motu proprio about the new criteria for a certain category of martyrs, those who give their lives for others. Maybe I am hyper-critical, or get a little to anxious about anything coming from Rome where ambiguity seems deliberately written into documents and where 2+2 can actually equal 5. I get anxious about anything that distracts us from Christ. On a quick reading it seems that it could be possible to be beatified for a love of humanity rather than for love of Jesus Christ.
Do feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
I suppose I have a certain growing concern about the canonisation/beatification of so many, once for Christians in both East and West a person's sanctity was judged on their ability to intercede and work miracles, their post-mortem activity was often much more important than their lives. St Thomas Becket, for example, was raised to the altar not so much for his legal disputes with the King but for the stream of healing miracles after his death.
There is a danger too in the beatification or canonisation of an ideology or a faction rather than a truly holy person who is now in Heaven and enjoying the Beatific vision, interceding for the Church and its members. It would regrettable if canonisation/beatification became a posthumous ecclesiastical decoration for merely the great and the good.
A Coptic Orthodox friend says their criteria for canonisation is the need to be dead for 70 years and for numerous miracles or supernatural occurrences at their intercession or at the place of their burial.
Simply, I get worried about the removal of the clearly supernatural elements in our faith.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Phone calls on Saturday or Sunday mornings are normally about Mass times. This Sunday I had a phone call asking, “Where is there Mass at midday in Brighton?” I replied, “There is one here at 12.30, it is in Polish”. The response, “Is there one in Vietnamese? If not we can do English but not Polish”.
Language is of course the great divider, I would have got, I suspect a similar response if I said Mass was in Latin. It is amazing to think most of the world was evangelised when the Church used sacral Latin.
Brighton is a veritable Babel of different languages, Polish amongst the Catholic community is certainly in the majority, and the Polish bishops ensure that for Poles there is a good system of chaplains, having a separate Mass perhaps makes it difficult for the children of Poles who are more comfortable with English to integrate, especially when the move from home. Until the last ten years Portuguese would have been the next biggest language group, there is as far as I know only one Portuguese speaking priest in the country, the result is that hardly any Portuguese seem to come to Mass, though when they return home they might well be devout.
Language for us is a problem, it is of its nature divisive, in the way it isn’t for Islam whose ‘liturgy’ is in classical Arabic, it is of course the sermon that becomes the problem for them as it was for us.
Though we say Latin in the past was the great unifier of Western Catholicism, until just before the Council silence in the liturgy amidst coughs and shuffling of the congregation was the norm, because of course microphones on the altar were forbidden, 'amplification' on the sanctuary was done by the clergy singing, this didn't happen at low Mass which is what most people attended, so in point of fact most people were evangelised by encouraging a strong devotional life based as much on the domestic and school as it was on the parish or mission church. He was merely responsible for celebrating the sacrament properly, praying and possibly preaching a half good sermon and not much else, the Church survived and prospered.
As an addenda: I thought this from NLM was interesting, in the world of the Traditional though priests as a species were important, as individuals, at least in church, they were not that important, I remember a friend who left who said he couldn't cope 'with the weight, the responsibility'. He wasn't the type of priest who could "say the black and do the red".
The Novus Ordo Missae has horizontal and vertical dimensions, but what it lacks is precisely depth. The depth has to be brought to it from the outside — from the interior spirit of the celebrant, from the accidents of place and time, from the luck of options well-chosen and well-executed. As it stands, the modern liturgy does not supply that depth in and of itself. It is utterly at the mercy of the ars celebrandi, the community, the authorities, the prevailing mores of society. Even as contemporary society is living off of the fumes of traditional morality, so too the contemporary liturgy, to the extent that it is sanctifying of men and glorifying of God, is living off of the fumes of traditional liturgy.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Will Francis abrogate it? That is anyone's guess, but there are lots of questions that arise in my mind
- Will the SSPX be reconciled Rome? I would suspect not but then all Francis needs to do is say they are reconciled and there are few problems, except possibly the appointment of successors to Bp Fellay et al.
- Would the members of Traditional Institutes like the Society of St Peter or the Institute of Christ the King join the reconciled SSPX? I doubt it, there are lots of wounds in what some might like term the Traditional Movement, so many sacrifices and humiliations undergone to remain faithful to union with Rome and distant from the SSPX.
- Would the SSPX want these other Institutes? I doubt it they have their own structures and spirituality. As charming as the three remaining SSPX might be, it is significant that Abp Lefebrve chose them for anything other than a leadership role, he wanted leadership of his priestly society to be priests, not a bishop.
- There are many diocesan priests, there are Dominican's and members of other religious institutes like Oratorians who have developed a deep love of the Usus Antiquior, will heads of these orders like to lose, often the younger and the brighter of their priests? Very unlikely, Figaro recently reported a quarter of priest ordained in France this year are what it calls 'traditional priests', ordained in the traditional rite but one suspects that a significant number of younger priests 'have sympathies' and with Pope pushing his own agenda on the Church these sympathies are likely to grow.
- What about the Bishop? Most would not want the SSPX involved in their diocese in a significant way or looking after significant numbers of 'their' faithful, or gathering vocations from 'their' young men (even, especially, if they can't gather them themselves). Yesterday, Bishop Campbell handed over English Martyrs, Preston. to the Institute of Christ the King, another big Preston Church to a traditional institute, one presumes such an action followed by several of our bishops is not done because they consider these priests museum curators but effective evangelists, where others have failed, but within, not outside, of their diocese and their personal oversight.
What I can see happening is Pope Francis, possibly, refusing bishops the right to celebrate ordinations in the Old Rite but I don't think that will work either. It might be seen as sniping at one or two Cardinals
Sunday, July 09, 2017
At that time Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Matthew 11:25
In this context, if we wish to understand what it means to become children we must look at Jesus, he is the Son, who was totally at one with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, It, and "Unless you become like little children ...", should be, can only be, understood in a Christology sense: seeing Jesus as THE child.
The Church has always understood these statements in the context of embracing the Evangelical Counsels, of casting off other dependencies until there is only the relationship of the soul and the Father, without any other affections and yet as we grow in the spiritual life gives us the capacity to love all that is created and all that belongs the Father.
Saturday, July 08, 2017
From the news it would seem that Vatican City is awash with gay orgies, but actually apart from the name of the cleric involved and the fact that Cardinal Cocopalmiero was the tenant of the flat in the Palace of the Holy Office and had been the close friend and patron of the prelate who seems not to have been arrested but take to hospital for a drug overdose, little seems to have been disclosed not even an estimate of the numbers involved. However it does seem as if there is a certain lack of a moral compass in the Vatican.
I am shocked by orgies happening in the Vatican, if indeed they are. I was shocked by news of a CDF employee who has left the priesthood to form a liaison with his homosexual lover but though these things are very sad, they happen.
What I find more shocking is the way in which Cardinal Mueller has been treated. It makes me think of a parishioner who was kind to everyone outside of his family but at home scarcely spoke to his wife and neglected his children, As the years progressed it became apparent that the neglect developed into sexual abuse and the silence towards the wife evolved into serious physical/psycho-sexual abuse of her.
In the Vatican I don't know what is going on but it seems very strange, if Cardinal Mueller is to be believed that he was told of his dismissal at the very last moment of his term of office and in the most perfunctory way - from the reports, "[the Pope] communicated his decision", it is unclear that the Cardinal even had an audience with the Pope, it might have been a message or even an email was sent from a third person. Mueller's account of his sacking seems to lack even the warmth of his account of his audience with the Pope a few months ago when he asked for reasons why he should sack three priests from the CDF, he wasn't given a reason, Francis merely ended the audience, according to Mueller, by saying, "I am the Pope". Mueller could of course be mistaken or deliberately lying but if not it would seem to suggest that there is a serious problem at the head of the Church.
Similarly Pope Francis failure to meet with the Cardinals before the last Consistory seems a little strange, presumably they had come to Rome from all parts of the world to speak to the Pope and not just to add a splash of scarlet to photographs of the ceremony. Even if other Popes have done the same, Francis is after all the Pope of de-centralisation, of accompaniment, of synodality, of collaboration, of parrhesia. I am left wondering if the Holy Father's excessively heavy workload, lack of holidays and time off, at his age has left him and the Church with mental health concerns. In the past of course he has often spoken of his psychological needs.
Pray for him.
According to Italian media reports, Pope Francis has started isolating himself in the refectory of the Casa Santa Marta where he is living. Until now, the table, where he was eating, was in the center of the refectory. Now it is in a corner. Francis is eating with his back toward the others surrounding himself with a few selected table companions.