Mere news

If there are two things that “foreigners” don’t understand about the Roman Church, they are these. 1. The Pope is an absolute dictator. 2. He has no power to change anything. Granted, this may seem a contradiction to some. I prefer to think of it as a holy “paradox.” It can be explained by the fact that there is someone above the Pope in the Church hierarchy. And that is Jesus Christ: King above Kings. The Pope is, as it were, His beadle. Should a Pope stand in conflict with the teachings of Our Lord, he is not serving his office. Instead, he is being an idiot, in the strict sense of standing alone.

Now, this is the world, in which things are always changing. But in their essentials, things never change. Perhaps gentle reader may receive this as another paradox. It is echoed in all areas of human life. The winds blow: it is necessary sometimes to adjust one’s footing, to remain standing in the same place. This is a thing of no consequence. Some habits of dress and turns of phrase may suffer adjustment, from time to time. One need not be confused by such “accidents.”

Over against this is the modernist notion of “evolution,” which puts the accidents in charge, of a world in perpetual flux. It is as wrong in science as in religion.

In both, the Truth is something we home in on, as the ratios in the Fibonacci series home in upon the absolutely constant Golden Section. Einstein did not overthrow Newton, but made Newton’s cosmology more exact. The very Catholic astronomer and mathematician, Copernicus, did not overthrow the pagan Ptolemy, for that matter: he explained observed movements more completely. Augustine did not overthrow Origen; Thomas Aquinas did not overthrow Augustine; &c. We may come, over time, to a better understanding of what was before us all along. No matter what revolutionary ideas are propounded, the Sun will continue to rise in the East.

The moral order is no more subject to revision than the observed physical laws. It might be explained differently, to one generation or another. But what is wrong is wrong at all times, no matter how many people are doing it; and what is right stays right, no matter how few. It is among the beliefs of post-modern nincompoopery that this order is subject to human choice. But attempts to alter what is founded in Nature will never end well.

That “there is nothing new under the Sun,” that Christ “came not to abolish but fulfil,” are words to bear in mind against the blathering. As too, the Psalmist’s “Therefore.” … “Therefore will not we fear, when the earth shall be troubled; and the mountains shall be removed into the heart of the sea.” If it happens, it is possible, but it does not follow that anything has changed.

Which takes us back to the papacy, and the book published in English today, The Dictator Pope. It is not before me as I write. I doubt, in fact, that I will ever read it, for from the publicity the Italian edition has received I see that it contains nothing new. It will be full of things that I knew already, in sufficient outline; which indeed my Chief Buenos Aires Correspondent told me in 2013. He, and several other fine Argentines said that the Conclave had made a terrible mistake. But how could they have known?

We have had bad as well as good Popes before; we will have them again, God willing. It happens, and thus it can happen. We were perhaps too spoilt with Popes better than we deserved. It may seem unfortunate, that mountains are shifting; but we should not be distracted by mere news.


On the subject of new books, my friend Herman Goodden’s Speakable Acts — a collection of his plays — is also launched today. Surely a more agreeable read. Those in the vicinity of London, Ontario, are instructed to proceed to the Chaucer Pub (122 Carling Street), where the drinking will begin at four-thirty. (See here; see here.)