Rorate Caeli

The Ethnographer-Theologian visits a Mysterious and Exotic Continent:
- Tradition is the name of the true Catholic "mindset" -

"I've visited Peru. Now I understand the pope!"

"The main aim of Pope Francis's pontificate is to help lead the greatest possible number of souls to eternal life with Christ." No, no, that is not what was said. No, here it is:

The main aim of Pope Francis’s pontificate is to draw the world’s attention to the poor and to change the global structures that lead to poverty,// the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a long interview last week. Speaking to the Austrian Pontifical Missions magazine Alle Welt, Cardinal Gerhard Müller insisted that it was not possible to truly understand Pope Francis unless one could understand the Latin American “mindset”. Cardinal Muller has long experience of Peru over several decades and is a close friend of the Peruvian liberation theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez.

The Western world would have to learn to see problems from the Pope’s point of view, which was very different from the European one, Cardinal Müller said. On account of his many visits to Latin America, he was very familiar with the way Pope Francis thought. It was very good for the world Church not always to see things through European eyes, the cardinal said, and to discover how other people saw Europe. [The Tablet]

When Catholicism worked and prospered in Latin America, it did not have a specific, particular, regional "mindset" that was any different from the "mind" of the Catholic Church. It was the same Christ-like mindset of all her great saints, men and women who, born there or coming from elsewhere in the Catholic world, gave all their blood for the work of Christ in those lands: Saint Rose of Lima and her sacrificial love for the Church, Saints Martin de Porres and Peter Claver and their true concern for the poor (that is, for the souls of the poor above all), Saint Philip of Jesus and his testimony for Christ unto crucifixion itself, Saint Toribio Romo and his renunciation of all earthly comforts for the most destitute while proclaiming loud and clear the exclusive Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ -- and of some of the holiest bishops ever to have lived on this earth, such as Saint Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo and Saint Ezequiel Moreno, who never wavered one second from the strictest doctrine of the Church, applied widely to all aspects of social life. In sum, if there was once a "Latin American mindset," it was the Catholic mindset, molded by Tradition.

It was for his universal, traditional, Catholic "mindset" that Father Toribio Romo was martyred, not for a "Latin American mindset."

It was easy to 'understand' Saint Toribio Romo's 'mindset':
he was simply a Priest

Of course the Church has always recognized, promoted, and elevated the best things in the culture of each people, transforming it through the light of reason and love. Yet, is it even possible or intellectually honest to identify a single "mindset" between a Chichimeca or Mexica Indian in the first generation of the Evangelization (Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin), a young devout Carmelite nun born in the Chilean upper-class who in her death truly shared the fate of the poorest (Saint Teresa of the Andes), a Peruvian Dominican Liberation Theologian who imbibed all his theology in Louvain, Belgium (Gustavo Gutiérrez), and a second-generation Italian-Argentinian middle-class urban Jesuit formed in Buenos Aires (Jorge Mario Bergoglio)? Ironically, those who amalgamate that huge region as having a distinct and uniformly recognizable "thinking mindset" that one has to "know" to get, as if it demanded some sort of "initiation," behave as the ultimate... "provincial" outsiders: "Yes, I've visited the tribes, and can assert that one must first understand their 'mindset' in order to 'get' them."

Traditional Mass in Guadalajara, Mexico

No, in Latin America, as in North America, Europe, and everywhere else in the Catholic world, the division is the same: not geographical, but between Catholicism as the Faith of Tradition, or as something else -- the (let us stress) Post-Conciliar "Latin American mindset," which is simply the worldwide "Spirit of Vatican II," the "Spirit of 1968," or the "Jesuit Arrupian" spirit has not been working very well, has it?