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Article No. 3a

Black Smoke Rising, Our Hopes Falling?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 13, 2013, 11:00 a.m.

“If they don’t elect Scola today, they won’t be electing him, and the Church is in bad shape.” So opines a prominent physician in Rome about the options presented by the papal conclave deliberating at this moment in the Sistine Chapel. Today at around 11 a.m. we saw black smoke for the second time since the conclave began, indicating not only the lack of a decision but perhaps the beginning of a long struggle for control over the future of our troubled Church.

That Scola is seen as the great hope of conservatives demonstrates the depth of the current ecclesial crisis. Scola, a supporter of the controversial Communion and Liberation movement, is a “new theologian” of the school of von Balthasar, whose “contributions” to Catholic theology included a meditation on Tarot cards.

In fact, after fifty years of crisis in the Church¬ there does not appear to be a single member of the College of Cardinals that a Pope like Saint Pius X would recognize as unimpeachably orthodox according to the Oath Against Modernism — abolished by Paul VI — that Pius required to be taken by every priest and theologian in the Church. There are many in the College, however, such as Cardinal Walter Kasper, who could not take the oath without lying. He would be tripped up by the Oath’s opening line: “I firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day

Kasper has been instrumental in promoting the errors of this day, including the idea that there is no obligation on the part of Protestants to return to the one true Church, as Pope Pius XI insisted in his encyclical Mortalium animos. In early 2000, then Bishop Kasper declared on the pages of L’Osservatore Romano that “The old concept of the ecumenism of return has today been replaced by that of a common journey which directs Christians toward the goal of ecclesial communion understood as unity in reconciled diversity.” The old idea of “ecumenism of return” is “no longer applicable to the Catholic Church after Vatican II,” said Kasper. (L’Osservatore Romano, January 20, 2000.)

And yet it would be difficult if not impossible to find a member of the College of Cardinals who would not agree with, or at least would not condone, Kasper’s nonsensical idea of a “reconciled diversity” of Catholics and Protestants on matters of doctrine — such as the papacy itself — concerning which Protestants maintain precisely the opposite of the truth.

Among the entire College of Cardinals one can identify a lone cardinal who would at least be a friend to Tradition rather than a relentless opponent like Kasper: Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka, elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict in 2010 after pressure from within the corruption-ridden Roman Curia resulted in Ranjith’s loss of his position as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. (Benedict clearly wanted Ranjith to participate in the next conclave. Did the former Pope know as early as 2010 that the next conclave would take place while he was still alive?)

Ranjith would almost certainly accelerate restoration of the traditional Latin Mass to its rightful place in the Church and end the ridiculous confinement of the Society of Saint Pius X to an ecclesiastical ghetto labeled “not in full communion,” while vast numbers of Catholics, exhibiting the “silent apostasy” lamented too late by John Paul II, openly defy any Church teaching they deem unacceptable.

Ranjith indeed has been mentioned in numerous press accounts as an outside possibility for Pope. Let us hope that if the black smoke rises again and again in the coming days it will mean that Ranjith’s prospects are rising as well, and that the Holy Ghost is using the divisions in the Conclave to bring about an unexpected good outcome for the Church. Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us!