Ex Cathedra; means “from the chair.” For an encyclical to be infallible the Pope must speak Ex Cathedra. Just this term alone has brought much controversy upon the Catholic Church as many unmistakably believe that the Catholic Church speaks infallibly all the time with teaching and the Pope is infallible as a cleric. Both presumptions are incorrect and it is the statement spoken Ex Cathedra and not the Pope that is pronouncing it without much collaboration. The Catholic Church never taught these and is diligent in trying to dissuade this thought.
Today, August 22, 2021 an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette titled “Pope Francis is tearing the Catholic Church apart.” There also is similarity to a book titled “Infiltration” by Taylor R. Marshall where he writes extensively regarding (in his words) the plot to destroy the Church from within. The article in the Post-Gazette, by Michael Brendan Dougherty, seems to bring this statement as well to the forefront of script and places doubt upon the Catholic Church and its Magisterium, not just today but for centuries.
According to both writers the culprit appears to be Vatican II. Somehow, by their thinking, John XXIII opened the windows of the Church and allowed or invited in a way of covert thinking which has become a slide on moral teaching with too many leaders, such as popes, bishops, and non-Catholic prelates looking to correct 2,000 years of Catholic teaching that has all but changed the real meaning of Christ’s teaching and the defamation of the Chair of Peter.
“Why Michael asks does Pope Francis insist on changing the Church by removing the Latin Mass or some semblance of its adherence to worship.
Change? Read Acts chapter 15. “Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved. Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul and Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question. (Acts 15: 1-2).
“The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to to them; My brothers you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.” (Acts 15: 6-7).
“Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear.” (Acts 15: 10).
Our first Vatican Council dealt with what we ascertain a simple problem, circumcision, yet here the church made a change that some disagreed with but did live with the acceptance of the new rule.
Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary, Mother of God, on November 1, 1950. It immediately became a dogma of the Church. Something that plagued the church for a long time. This became an Ex Cathedra statement and was a change to earlier thinking. Change? Yes!
The first celebrations of the Mass, first the “Last Supper” then the following celebrations in the catacombs or cellars of hidden Christians for fear of the Jews and the Romans, were completed as best they were possible with direct communication of bishop and people. The first bishops were the apostles then later presbyters. Note, they never had their back to the people. Always frontal. The Latin Mass had the priest celebrating with his back to the congregation and the readings were spoken in Latin. No doubt that might be why so many congregants prayed the rosary during Mass. This they could understand.
According to Michael Dougherty, the new ritual points us toward a bare table instead of an altar. Yes, Jesus was crucified on a cross which is a type of tabernacle, therefore the Living Bread in the tabernacle is an altar, but the Last Supper was shared by all at a table. Let’s get the semantics straight as they relate to this particular discussion.
A Pope is chosen by his Cardinal peers, and even though these are men who adorn a Mitre we must believe that the Holy Spirit is totally guiding their thinking. This is one instance where the Grace of God is ever present. The same as when the choice to replace Judas the apostles had before them Barsabbas and Matthias; they prayed and after lots were counted the choice fell to Matthias. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is guiding their choice the Pope isn’t just another cleric taking the Chair of Peter, he also sits there with God’s Grace as the successor of Peter. The Catholic Church continues with a leader after St. Peter. He is human, makes mistakes, has his own personality, but he is chosen by God, through his peers, to lead the Church of Jesus Christ.
Both Michael Dougherty and Taylor Marshall have the right to put their thoughts on paper, but we must be careful to scrutinize what we read or hear. Use discernment when approaching information that may easily turn our senses away from truth (the Church) and authors who have opinions that are not in line with Catholic teaching.
Ralph B. Hathaway, The Chair of Peter 2021