Author Topic: What Dante Can Teach Us About Papalism  (Read 325 times)

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Offline StLouisIX

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What Dante Can Teach Us About Papalism
« on: September 29, 2021, 03:09:23 PM »
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    Among the many celebrated geniuses of whom the Catholic faith can boast who have left undying fruits in literature and art especially, besides other fields of learning, and to whom civilization and religion are ever in debt, highest stands the name of Dante Alighieri…
                            – Pope Benedict XV (In Praeclara Summorum, paragraph 1)

    I, a lowly sinner, write the following:

    The cautionary tale told by Guido da Montefeltro, one of the two sinners that Dante meets in Bolgia Eight of Hell’s Eighth Circle, conveys in my eyes quite a similar message to what traditionalists have said for years: Not even the Pope himself can command you to sin, and if you follow such a command, you will go to Hell for it if you do not repent. Furthermore, this passage further convinces me that just as a Pope can induce someone to sin against morals and retains his office, so too (by some mystery) can he induce someone to sin against faith and retain his office.

    Listen to Guido’s words here, but do not trust them fully:

    I was a man of arms: then took the rope
    of the Franciscans, hoping to make amends:
    and surely I should have won to all my hope

    but for the Great Priest - may he rot in Hell!
    who brought me back to all my earlier sins;
    and how and why it happened I wish to tell

    in my own words: while I was still encased
    in the pulp and bone my mother bore, my deeds
    were not of the lion but of the fox: I raced

    through tangled ways; all wiles were mine from birth,
    and I won to such advantage with my arts
    that rumor of me reached to the ends of the earth.

    But when I saw before me all the signs
    of the time of life that cautions every man
    to lower his sail and gather his lines,

    that which had pleased me once, troubled my spirit,
    and penitent and confessed, I became a monk.
    Alas! What joy I might have had of it!

    It was then the Prince of the New Pharisees drew
    his sword and marched upon the Lateran - and not against the Saracen or the Jєω,

    for every man that stood against his hand
    was a Christian soul: not one had warred on Acre,
    not been a trader in the Sultan’s land.

    It was he [who] abused his sacred vows and mine:
    his Office and the Cord I wore, which once
    made those it girded leaner, as Constantine

    sent for Slivestro to cure his leprosy,
    seeking him out among Soracte’s cells;
    so this one from his great throne sent for me

    to cure the fever of pride that burned his blood.
    He demanded my advice, and I kept silent
    for his words seemed drunken to me. So it stood

    until he said: “Your soul need fear no wound;
    I absolve your guilt beforehand; and now teach me
    how to smash Penestrino to the ground.

    The Gates of Heaven, as you know, are mine
    to open and shut, for I hold the two Great Keys
    so easily let go by Celestine.”

    His weighty arguments led me to fear
    silence was worse than sin. Therefore, I said:
    “Holy Father, since you clean me here of the guilt into which I fall, let it be done:
    long promise and short observance is the road
    that leads to the sure triumph of your throne.”

    Later, when I was dead, St. Francis came
    to claim my soul, but one of the Black Angels
    said: ‘Leave him. Do not wrong me. This one’s name

    went into my book the moment he resolved
    to give false counsel. Since then he has been mine,
    for who does not repent cannot be absolved;

    nor can we admit the possibility
    of repenting a thing at the same time it is willed,
    for the two acts are contradictory.’

    Miserable me! with what contrition
    I shuddered when he lifted me, saying: ‘Perhaps
    you hadn’t heard that I was a logican.’

    He carried me to Minos: eight times round
    his scabby back the monster comes his tail,
    then biting it in raged he pawed the ground

    and cried: ‘This one is for the thievish fire!’
    And, as you see, I am lost accordingly,
    grieving in heart as I go on this attire.”
    Inferno XXVII, lines 64-126 (Ciardi translation). Emphasis my own.

    Some commentary from John Ciardi:

    67. the Great Priest: Boniface VIII, so called as Pope.

    83. marched upon the Lateran: Boniface had a long-standing feud with the Colonna family. In 1297 the Colonna walled themselves in a castle twenty-five miles east of Rome at Penestrino (now called Palestrina) in the Lateran. On Guido’s advice the Pope offered a fair-sounding amnesty which he had no intention of observing. When the Colonna accepted the terms and left the castle, the Pope destroyed it, leaving the Colonna without a refuge.

    86-87. Acre…trader in the Sultan’s land: It was the Saracens who opposed the Crusaders at Acre, the Jєωs who traded in the Sultan's land.

    90-92. Constantine….Slivestro….Soracte: In the persecutions of the Christians by the Emperor Constantine, Pope Slyvester I took refuge in the caves of Mount Soracte near Rome. (It is now called Santo Oreste.) Later, according to legend, Constantine was stricken by leprosy and sent for Slyvester, who cured him and converted him to Christianity, in return for which the Emperor was believed to have made the famous “Donation of Constantine.” (See Canto XIX.) 

    How can we apply this today? Like with what Pope Boniface VIII did when he “drew/his sword and marched upon the Lateran”, Pope Francis wages a kind of war, ideological rather than physical, on traditional-minded Catholics, not against “…the Saracen or the Jєω”, that is, not against enemies of the Church. As those who frequent this site are familiar with, he goes even further than Boniface did by sadly marching WITH the Saracen and the Jєω, WITH Gates and Schwab against those who wish to live out the True Faith in our trying times. The recommendation of the “potion” by the present Pontiff is one of many examples of this.

    Moreover, look at how many who call themselves Catholic are willing to attack traditionalists and TLM groups over Traditiones Custodes, and ask yourselves: would these same people jump at the chance to slaughter their fellow Catholics over mere political squabbling, just because the Pope ordered them to do so? Is that example extreme? It sure is. But what is more extreme is that many will throw core Catholic principles and values under the bus to sastify the wishes of a Pope in the name of “obedience”. To approve of the concept that a Pontiff can licitly abolish the Roman Rite, which has been in existence since the time of Sts. Peter and Paul, is to participate in an objective attempt to destroy the Catholic Faith by commission. To kill souls is worse than to kill bodies. Though “freedom of religion” has desensitized us to this, to spread error and heresy is worse than even murder, since the spreading of these not only destroys souls but tears the very fabric of society.

    It is very disheartening to write this, but it is all true. I wonder if there is today a modern Guido da Montefeltro in the walls of the Vatican, who instead of being asked about how to “smash Penestrino to the ground”, instead is asked by the present Pope about how to smash Menzingen to the ground. Perhaps such a man would give the same answer Guido gave: “long promise and short observance is the road that leads to the triumph of your throne.” (i.e. Give the SSPX a deal that you know you won’t keep!)

    Let us all pray for Francis, regardless of whether we believe he is the Pope or not.

    Some more words from Pope Benedict XV on Dante that I find relevant to this discussion:

    No need to recall Alighieri's great reverence for the authority of the Catholic Church, the account in which he holds the power of the Roman Pontiff as the base of every law and institution of that Church…But, it will be said, he inveighs with terrible bitterness against the Supreme Pontiffs of his times. True; but it was against those who differed from him in politics and he thought were on the side of those who had driven him from his country. One can feel for a man so beaten down by fortune, if with lacerated mind he breaks out sometimes into words of excessive blame, the more so that, to increase his feeling, false statements were being made by his political enemies ready, as always happens, to give an evil interpretation to everything. And indeed, since, through mortal infirmity, "by worldly dust even religious hearts must needs be soiled" (St. Leo M. S. IV de Quadrag), it cannot be denied that at that time there were matters on which the clergy might be reproved, and a mind as devoted to the Church as was that of Dante could not but feel disgust while we know, too, that reproof came also from men of conspicuous holiness. But, however he might inveigh, rightly or wrongly, against ecclesiastical personages, never did he fail in respect due to the Church and reverence for the "Supreme Keys"; and on the political side he laid down as rule for his views "the reverence which a good son should show towards his father, a dutiful son to his mother, to Christ, to the Church, to the Supreme Pastor, to all who profess the Christian religion, for the safeguarding of truth" (Mon. III, 3).
    (In Praeclara Summorum, paragraph 6)

    Offline StLouisIX

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    Re: What Dante Can Teach Us About Papalism
    « Reply #1 on: October 10, 2021, 09:01:40 PM »
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  • A correction to what I wrote: 

    From the Editor’s Preface of Dante’s Divina Commedia: Its Scope and Value by Franz Hettinger, pgs xii-xiii: 

    …Dante accuses him [Boniface VIII], in common with Guido da Montefeltro, of the treacherous destruction of the fortress of Palestrina. The story is rejected as a calumny by Muratori and by all the most trustworthy authorities. Guido was a celebrated general, who became a Franciscan friar. He was therefore one of the most conspicuous men of his age, and his doings are duly noted in the contemporary records of his Order, and of the city of Bologna; neither makes any allusion to his having returned to the world, but both testify to his having lived and died a holy religious. 

    Though the incident referred to in this part of the Inferno never happened, I think it still holds up as a fictional parable, about the limits of obedience to the Pope.