The new ultramontanes

Simon J. Dodd has made an important contribution to the exploding genre of “crisis literature” under the pontificate of Pope Francis:

“A year ago, I would not have resisted the label ‘ultramontane’—keen-eyed readers will notice that posts on this blog appear beneath a papal crest—and would have cheerfully recited the conventional wisdom that since Vatican I, ultramontanism has merged into Catholic orthodoxy. As we have seen, that is not quite right. For a while, though, it was right enough; that kind of sloppy thinking worked when Benedict XVI was pope, because there was no need to delineate carefully between the prerogatives proper to the papacy itself and the substantial deference and respect afforded to its distinguished occupant. But with Francis’ election to the See of Rome, it became necessary to think more precisely, and I have become convinced that in recent decades, in Millegan’s words, conservatives have ‘overstate[d] the role, powers, and privileges of the papacy.’”

2 thoughts on “The new ultramontanes

  1. Right! As you told me just after you came into the church, “We are papal minimalists,” a traditional position, not a liberal one. As others have observed during the scandal of this papacy, the trouble with Novus Ordo conservatives was, having the traditional Mass taken away from them and accepting that, they misunderstood church teaching to mean their identity was based on the person of the Pope. The parish was heretical and low-church but, in their view really, the Pope was ipso facto a saint (another disturbing trend: canonizing the Vatican II Popes). This accelerated under St. John Paul the Overrated: sound on doctrine, but if you were traditional, you were told to give that up and become a charismatic. I don’t watch EWTN; they do good but they’re for the lapsed and unchurched. I don’t need the TV to tell me I’m Catholic. So like in decades and centuries past, for me the Pope’s a distant figure whose name is whispered in the Canon and whom I give Peter’s Pence once a year. Good thing he can’t change the church’s teachings. If he tried (he hasn’t yet), then the sedevacantist scenario would become reality.


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