O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Patriarch Sviatoslav on Pope Francis

Patriarch Sviatoslav meets with Cardinal Bergoglio

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kiev, is familiar with His Holiness as back when HH was Archbishop of Buenos Aires for the Latins, HB was Bishop of Buenos Aires for the Ukrainians. At the same time, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was also ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina not numerous enough to have their own diocese. That means that PF knows and has respect for the Byzantine tradition. HB made this statement on the election of PF:
I would first like to say that the newly elected Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil who is now buried in the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome. Today’s Pope, during his time as a student of the Salesian school, awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr. Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.

The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine. I asked him to bear witness to the process of beatifying Fr. Stepan Chmil, to which, he gladly agreed. The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality.

Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy. Our Eparchy in Argentina is, let’s say, suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires. In this way, Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help. Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.

In regards to the personality of the new Holy Father – he is an incredibly modest person. For example, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he never relied on his own automobile, rather relying on public transportation, always in simple clothing. He mostly stands out in his enormous care for the less-fortunate, visiting the most impoverished neighborhoods. He is a person, I would say, of great pastoral foundation.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is an incredibly deep intellectual. I can attest to the fact that his homilies are quite short, sometimes no longer than five or six sentences, but he manages to fill them with such deep meaning, always leaving the faithful in silent contemplation upwards of five-to-seven minutes.
H/T to Ramblings of a Byzantine Catholic.

So while the outlook for the Latin Rite is rather poor, the Eastern Rites are looking pretty good.

In relation to the Latin Rite, PF is someone who has always been faithful, but ineffective at fixing problems in the Church; who supported SP, but too weak to enforce it; who had all the correct intentions in the world upon being elected, but far to intimidated to be effective in cleaning the Church.

In relation to the Eastern Rites, he had faculties before he was pope, so this is the closest to an Eastern Rite pope we've had since the early Church period (there were 3 North Africans and at least one Greek, there's no way they were all Latins). He knows the Byzantine tradition and has great respect for it, going out of his way to learn it. Patriarch Svyatoslav, the most traditional eastern primate we've had in a long time and a very outspoken opponent of latinizations (the Eastern equivalent of modernizations), considered Cardinal Bergoglio a good friend and mentor when he was still an up and coming bishop. That's nothing to shake a stick at. The three Latin bishops that Patriarch Svyatoslav is most similar to are Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Ranjith, and Bishop Schneider.

So we can see that PF is too weak to oppose the problems in the Latin Rite (hence the justified anxiety by faithful Latins), but is friends and allies with all the correct reformers in the East. As an aside, if any of you disgruntled Latins want to come over to the Byzantine Rite, where liturgies are even longer and even more profound than the Tridentine Rite and liberals are even older, far fewer in number, weaker in influence, and far less extreme (even the worst don't challenge ad orientem worship and don't support Communion in the hand or girl altar boys), than we would love to have you. In fact, if you want to get rid of liberals, it's a much easier task on the East Bank of the Tiber and we would love to have you-especially in the US. The two traditions are different in a number of ways, but are both ancient, venerable, and unchangeable traditions. Easterners have autonomy from Rome (sui iuris) when it comes to liturgy and appointing bishops-that authority being vested in the patriarch instead of Rome-so it doesn't matter what Latin Rite bishops say about you no matter how much they whine or try to bully you-they have no longer have any authority over you when you're on the East Bank of the Tiber.

At any rate, PF is not some rabid modernist the way modernists and traditionalists alike paint him up to be. He is faithful on doctrine but lacks charisma and is easily intimidated by modernists who hate him (and the modernists do oppose him, make no mistake; his lack of effectiveness in cleaning the Church-evident for years in Argentina-is what made him appeal to them). I don't believe all the doom and gloom from most Latin Rite traditionalists: PF isn't charismatic enough to change anything either positive or negative. He would have to be charismatic with bad intentions to be disastrous, but he has good intentions and lacks charisma, which is most troubling and necessitates prayers, but not complete disaster. Ineffective pope maybe, but not evil. I'm expecting a JP2-like papacy with eloquent theology, but oversimplified, uninspiring liturgies and very little in terms of changes one way or the other despite the Pontiff's best intentions. The first two we've already seen in only 24 hours. PF's faithful theology but inability to fight internal problems despite good intentions also makes for a good comparison with Paul VI. The difference is that we can expect a papacy similar to the length of John XXIII's, given PF's health and stress levels as a result of being so overwhelmed. PF is more intimidated now than B16 (who abdicated due to stress!) ever was. PF has made it clear by his statements and demeanor that he is very faithful, but too weak and overwhelmed to oppose the problems in the Church, which is troubling and needs prayers. He is not our enemy as traditionalists (both Eastern and Western), but he desperately needs our prayers to do anything for he knows he's two weak to fix the Church.

Svyateishemu vselenskomu Arhiyereyu Frantsisk, Pape Rimskomu, sotvori, Gospodi, mnogaya leta.
To Our Holy and Ecumenical Pontiff, Francis, Pope of Rome, grant O Lord, many years.

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Franciscum.
R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]