Rorate Caeli

Pope on Traditional groups: "Pelagian current. It's like turning back 60 years! They count rosaries... Please, don't laugh."

[Second part: Pope to CLAR: "Yes, there is a 'gay lobby' in the Curia."]
[Third part: full transcript]

The Pope had an audience with the presiding board of the CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women - Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosos y Religiosas) on June 6, 2013 (image above, with three sisters and three male religious). It was a private audience, so no transcript was provided, but those who were present were kind enough to provide the words of His Holiness, made available at the Chilean ultra-progressive website Reflexión y Liberación (Reflection and Liberation).

The excerpt that mentions Traditional Catholic groups is the one below (the ellipses are part of the original long transcript, as provided by CLAR):

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms... Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite... I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that... They concern me because they ignore the incarnation! And the Son of God became our flesh, the Word was made flesh, and in Latin America we have flesh abundantly [de tirar al techo]! What happens to the poor, their pains, this is our flesh...

[Source: Reflexion y Liberacion; tip: reader]


  1. Well, if we needed anymore proof the Pope wasn't traditional....

  2. When he used the word "emancipated" to describe his style of Mass celebration, I wondered why would a Pope ever use a word that is usually reserved to perfectly describe a behavior of female teens in the 1970s?
    Now I know. We are rapidly heading to a schism, not unity.
    It reminds me of the delusional voters thinking that electing Obama they'd decrease political divide. Ha!
    Bishop Francis is just beginning.

  3. "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries."

    Your Holiness, we are the poor who have no money to count or material goods filling our homes...we can only count our roses of rosaries.

  4. It's quite sad to learn the Pope essentially mocked a particular group of Catholics. Is this the way to promote unity in the Church? To make jokes about a particular group offering 3525 Rosaries for the new pontificate? At least someone is still saying the Rosary.

    I could understand the current Pope's comments if the period of the 1940's was some sort of dark age for the Church, but it wasn't. In fact, Mass attendance was quite high then. Now, it's in the toilet.

    Is the Pope suggesting the 1970's were a grand period for the Church? Even Pope Paul said the smoke of Satan had entered the Church then. Was he talking about the 1980's when pervert priests were abusing young children?

    These comments are as disappointing as anything I could have imagined. If these words are real, then Francis will likely oversee the continued declined in the Church, vocations, and weekly attendance by the faithful.

  5. This is from a VERY suspect 'ultra-liberal' source, it is secondhand and from people with a very big agenda. Frankly, I do not believe it. Especially the rosary offering commentary. It is not even characteristic of The Holy Father's way of talking.


  6. An unfortunate off the cuff remark. Denigrating of the supernatural benefits of devout prayer also. Troubling.

  7. It's not at all suspect. Plus, he also criticizes the kind of Superior General (the "cosmos" kind) one suspects may have been present at the meeting, and that would be very welcome in Progressive circles - so there is every sign of being accurate. In any event, if it is mistaken, we are sure the Holy See Press Office will eventually deny it.

    Plus, what is characteristic of the "way of talking"?... Of the past three months?... We have been paying attention to his "way of talking" for years, long before his current position, and it is not at all "uncharacteristic".

  8. Introducing the Society of St. Pius X...

  9. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Opening these back up, please keep it civil.

  10. "The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-Fatima, on 13 July 1917.

    I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.

    After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."
    I worry a bit because, other than Portugal, cork trees proliferate in Brazil.

  11. Not terribly surprising, IMO. Pope Francis is not a traditionalist. But the fact that he juxtaposed traditionalists who offered him the prayer of Our Lady with people who "bathe in the cosmos" every morning is frustrating, to say the least.

    That said, I don't think it's fair to paint him as "making fun" - he (allegedly) said as much, i.e. that he was not saying this to make people laugh. The fact that the audience could and would laugh at this kind of thing is indicative of where the real mens of the Church in Latin America is located.

  12. This hurts a little.

  13. Thank you, Long-Skirts. Your comment is the truest response, and one we must make.

    I am heartsick reading this. Even if the Holy Father didn't say these things - and I've no reason to believe that he didn't - I'm heartsick that any Catholic would speak this way of other Catholics.

    And, Holy Father, these "things" DO exist today, at this very moment, all over the world. These "things" are loved and treasured by Catholics all over the world, and loved and treasured by Our Lord and Our Lady. They are not restorationist, Holy Father, they are Catholic.

    God help us all.

  14. Anonymous1:27 AM

    In my view the "counting of the Rosaries" i.e. the Rosary Crusades, displayed a sort of "showiness" and almost pharisaical attitude, "Look how pious we are. Look how much we pray." I am sure traditionalist did not have this as their intent but it still seemed a bit manipulative, as if it is possible to manipulate Our Lady, Our Lord and/or the Pope himself by sheer numbers. I know that is harsh but I'm being honest. I'm glad the Holy Father brought this up and I am equally glad he said something about the "new agers." That nonsense has been going on way too long.

  15. If His Holiness was just joking, it was a joke not in good taste. In making the remark about the 1940's, I wonder if the Pope believes that Vatican Council ll was in fact a break with the 2000 year Tradition of the Church. Numbers play a very important part of God's plan for us. The numbers 40, 7, 3, 9 (from where we got Novenas). God was the first to start the use of numbers for us. To receive that Spiritual Bouquet of 3,525 Rosaries and not appreciate them is a let down for those who prayed them. Perhaps he will not receive anymore in the future. Something is wrong! What could it be?

  16. Devout prayer is always good.

    However mere quantity does not always equal devotion. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ warned us about those who think God will hear them because of their many words.

  17. Perhaps it is possible to understand the Holy Father's comments in light of the following quote, lifted from another blog, from Tracey Rowland's book "Ratzinger's Faith":

    "Tracey Rowland writes in Ratzinger's Faith:

    [Ratzinger] speaks of the twin pathologies of bourgeois pelagianism and the pelagianism of the pious. He describes the mentality of the bourgeois pelagian as follows: 'If God really does exist and if He does in fact bother about people He cannot be so fearfully demanding as He is described by the faith of the Church. Moreover, I am no worse than others; I do my duty, and the minor human weaknesses cannot really be as dangerous as all that.' This attitude is a modern version of 'acedia' - a kind of anxious vertigo that overcomes people when they consider the heights to which their divine pedigree has called them. In Nietzchean terms it is the mentality of the herd, the attitude of someone who just cannot be bothered to be great. It is the bourgeois because it is calculating and pragmatic and comfortable with what is common and ordinary, rather than aristocratic and erotic...:

    'They [pious pelagians] want security, not hope. By means of a tough and rigorous system of religious practices, by means of prayers and actions, they want to create for themselves a right to blessedness. What they lack is the humility essential to any love - the humility to be able to receive what we are given over and above what we have deserved and achieved. The denial of hope in favor of security that we are faced with here rests on the inability to bear the tension of waiting for what is to come and to abandon onself to God's goodness.'"

    Presumably Traditionalists (and not just Trads!) are in danger of becoming pious Pelagians in this understanding.

  18. While it would not surprise me in the slightest if the Holy Father had said these things in so many words, given his evangelical-flavored track record (that I know of), I suppose I am left to hope, perhaps against hope, that CLAR inflated and distorted. Or failing that, that the Holy Father undergoes a conversion.

    While it is gratifying that he recognized pantheism and gnosticism when he sees them, it's deeply disappointing to see traditional devotional life so disparaged, let alone reduced to something as risible as Pelagianism. Such prayer life and "disciplines" sustained the Church through its greatest and most vibrant ages! And just because one recites a formulaic prayer, does not necessarily make it any less sincere!

  19. P.S. I agree with Mike: Long-Skirts' comment cannot be improved upon.

  20. Anonymous2:43 AM

    I wonder if, during my family's novena to the Sacred Heart last week, we shouldn't have counted the nine days ...

  21. Woody, I fail to see how offering a spiritual bouquet of holy Rosaries for the Holy Father is being a "pious Pelagian." Are you suggesting that everyone who offers spiritual bouquets are really pious Pelagians? If a group of people offered you a spiritual bouquet of holy Rosaries would be such an incredible ingrate as to accuse them of being "pious Pelagians"?

    At the end of the day, after all, that's what we are dealing with... not Pelagians of any sort, but someone who seems to lack class, tact and charity.

  22. His remarks about discipline are the most discouraging. I saw this video (copy and paste the link; I do not know how to hyperlink in the comment section) recently -

    Fr. Kramer has it perfectly. The lack of discipline in the sixties and seventies, both within the Church and in society in general, has been inestimably harmful to us young men and women. I say this as someone who has not seen his father since he was two, whose family now spans three continents and, as a result of not being taught anything about religion, are divided into pagans [deist], heretics and Catholics [the latter happily being the most numerous; our family comes from West Ukraine and so has historically always been Catholic; then there is our family on the other side of the border - Polonia].

    We want discipline. We want order. We want est and non. That he speaks of having to have "lived through it", as though it were like the Second World War or the Soviet Union, is immensely saddening.

    This whole pontificate is indicative of what has occurred since the introduction of the vernacular. Instead of all being Roman Catholic - now there is South American Catholicism, Filipino Catholicism, Polish Catholicism, Irish Catholicism and ectera. His remarks are representative of the South American understanding of the Liturgy, Tradition, history and discipline.

    The universality of the Church has been severely undermined and comments, and thinking like this prove it. May it serve as a warning to the next Roman Pontiff and all of us now. If we are not Roman - we are not Catholic.

    - adulescens

  23. Since charity demands that we always read the best possible intention into the actions of others we should do likewise with the Holy Father. My father grew up during the 50s and 60s and relates how grade school children would become obsessed with reciting as many Rosaries as possible to obtain as many indulgences as possible. The obsession, he relates, was of the unhealthy/piously Pelagian kind. His Holiness may have observed such behavior in his youth and the focus on the number of Rosaries may have struck him as such obsessive behavior. Was his absentminded and informal comment a little insensitive? Maybe. Was it a disdain for the gift of prayers and traditional sentiments? I can't imagine so from a man who just lead the Rosary in Rome and said that Tradition ought to be treasured and allowed to live in the Church.

    And for what its worth my father attends the TLM and tries to pray the Rosary and obtain indulgences as often as possible so please do not assume my father is also anti Rosary or anti Tradition.

  24. Could it be said that TOB is part of the Gnostic current?

  25. Ultra-progressive nuns I see - wearing TROUSERS at a papal audience! What a disgrace!

  26. Tentatively, I tend to agree with the Pope's comments on the counting per se of rosaries, as I believe that what he was talking about was an erroneous focus on a quantitive value, rather than the spiritual.

    Nevertheless, it's an uncharacteristically clumsy statement !!! (which clumsiness one cannot rejoice in)

  27. It doesn't matter how many prayers the children said were heartfelt---how many of mine are? Did it turn their minds in the right direction? (Unlike the schools of the present, I might add.)

  28. I have to strongly agree with lovealwayscorinne and Woody - Well said, both of you!

  29. I never heard about cork-trees (Quercus suber) in Brazil, although they are pretty common in Portugal. They are too dependent on climate, I guess.

  30. Our Pope speaks clumsily, as he always has. He acts flippantly, as he did as Cardinal. But this is his appeal! For modern man is flippant and clumsy. So it is no accident that Pope Francis is experiencing some love from the media. Pope Francis strikes a chord with the media's audience. Please do not act surprised that Pope Francis' personality is similar to Card. Bergoglio. And do not discount what he has to say, merely because he steps on your toes. If you feel that your toes cannot be stepped upon, then you are full of pride. And you need to experience the pain of having your toes stepped upon. Pope Francis did not criticize the praying of so many rosaries. He did not criticize the intentions of the prayers or the repetitions of the prayers. What he criticized was the act, after the fact, of saying "Look, Holy Father, at the number of prayers we have prayed for you!" THAT is vain repetition. Repetition of prayer in order in order to brag or draw emphasis to, or publicly display of the number of repetitions, for numbers' sake. Listen to the Holy Father. He may be clumsy; he may be flippant. But he is wise.

  31. The Holy Father said:

    "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." but this thing of counting..."


    I was busy, busy, busy
    Busy as a bee
    Cleaning, organizing
    No sympathy for me.

    On my hands and knees I scrubbed
    Floors of dirty house
    Then my little girl crept up close
    Quiet as a mouse.

    "Mother," she said softly
    She held a small shoe box
    "What?" I questioned sharply
    Time ticking on the clocks.

    Holding up the box to me
    "There is a gift inside
    I worked all morning filling it
    For you!" She smiled with pride.

    She handed me the shoe box
    Lifting off the lid with care
    Impatiently I looked inside,
    "My dear, there's nothing there."

    I set the empty shoe box
    Upon the kitchen table,
    "Now go outside and play some games
    I'll get to you when able."

    She walked on over to the box
    As tears streamed from her eyes,
    "What's wrong with you?" I asked her
    For weakness I despise.

    "Oh, mother can't you see
    Can not you see what this is?
    It holds for you my love
    Where I blew my hundred kisses."

  32. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Mark, and you're a troll, so stop posting.

    To call good Catholics vain for counting the rosaries they send in a spiritual bouquet is idiotic, mean and unCatholic.

  33. Anonymous1:04 PM

    I wonder has our Holy Father read the third secret of Fatima?...Perhaps it will take a horror far worse than what have seen to date to bring our Hierarchy to the realization of the seriousness of the times in which we live. Praying with all my heart many rosaries for Pope Francis.

  34. I was counting the hail marys of my rosary. But the Pope said "stop counting" and now I don't know what to do. Have I finish it yet?


  35. Mark, you don't know what you are talking about. All spiritual bouquets have always indicated how many rosaries were prayed. It's kind of like giving someone two dozen roses. Each rose is counted. Each one took effort to grow and each one is beautiful. Each one, typically, is very appreciated by the woman receiving them.

  36. Hello David,

    Woody, I fail to see how offering a spiritual bouquet of holy Rosaries for the Holy Father is being a "pious Pelagian."

    I don't either, but I think I get what then-Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to warn of in the quotes given by Rowland: the danger of viewing salvation mechanistically, that if a required number of prayers are said, certain devotions scrupulously followed, that salvation will follow.

    I can't say that such a danger has never been realized. But if this is what Pope Francis feared, I find it extraordinarily uncharitable of him to dismiss these gestures as nothing more than "pious Pelagianism." And no less troubling is the chronological prejudice on display, dismissive of the devotions of the faithful of a past age, without any attempt at distinctions.

  37. Long-Skirts,

    "The Poor Box" is one of your best! I love it.


  38. Thank you, Long Skirts.


  39. I bet if you sent him 3,356 ounces of gold or $3,356,000.00 upon his election he would think the number mattered.

  40. Anonymous7:30 PM

    I think it's dangerous to assume one can divine the intent of, or driving force behind, any prayer, simply because one does not favor the manner in which it is presented. Or counted. I also know I would react very differently were I presented with such an inestimable gift.

  41. Well... I support Papa Francis 100%... counting Rosaries is a waste of time. The faithful who were praying those rosaries probably could have said many more if they weren't busy keeping track of how many were said. It is madness..

  42. Some people will defend anything.

  43. I believe that a good response might be for Catholics to send more and more 'bouquets' of Rosaries, all accurately numbered to His Holiness.

  44. Jesus prayed in the desert an exact number of days. Somebody was counting. Not 20 days, not 51 days - but 40 days.

  45. In Luke 18 the widow kept praying to the judge (not known exact number of times) but it was many, saying the same thing each time.

  46. He obviously doesn't know what Pelagianism is, if he did he couldn't possibly have called Traditionalists that without being dishonest. St. Alphonsus describes the heresy of Pelagius as follows: "First, that Adam and Eve were created mortal, and that their sin only hurt themselves, and not their posterity. Second - Infants are now born in the same state that Adam was before his fall. Third - Chilfren dying without baptism, do not indeed go to Heaven, but they possess eternal life... The principal error of Pelagius and his followers, was, concerning Grace and free will, for he asserted, that man, by the natural force of his free-will, could fulfill all the Divine precepts, conquer all temptations and passions, and arrive at perfection without the assistance of grace." (History of Heresies, Vol. 1, p. 100, by St. Alphonsus Liguori).

  47. Oh! I understand now. He thinks some traditionalists who count rosaries are (semi-)Pelagian because he thinks they base their salvation too much on personal efforts, numbers of rosaries said.

  48. Every pope needs prayers. In some cases, it is especially evident that a pope is in need of prayers. Given this latest news, I will increase my prayers for him.

    I probably won't count my prayers, but that's just me -- and I don't raise any objection to those who choose to do that.

  49. if these are private words, how can we know he actually said them? Should we treat them with full confidence that he said them? Is it right for us to even read words that he wants to be private?

  50. Alan Aversa,
    What you describe could not be accounted Pelagianism, because the Catholic faith teaches that extra efforts mean extra grace and more merit, whereas Pelagianism teaches that men may become perfect according to the Divine precept by their own efforts and without the assistance of grace. There is none of that among Traditionalists. See my above quote from St. Alphonsus.

  51. It is important to note that this is the same Pope who prayed 8 hours to the Mother of God and who prays the rosary all the time. I charitably submit that perhaps he is referring to the practice of 'counting' up or telling others what spiritual practices we do for them.

    The Lord warns against this as it can manifest a spiritual pride. He states, "Don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing."

    And specifically on prayer, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." Mth 6:5

    Perhaps the practice of spiritual boquets is something that violates the above principal. If we are telling someone what we are doing for them spiritually, then are we not taking away our merit? Are we doing this to be seen by others? Are we praying for others to our Father in 'secret'?

    I find it hard to reconcile the Lord's words and this spiritual practice if we are letting others know how much and how often we pray for them. The Pharisee's did the same.

    Simply because spiritual boquets are traditional does not make them Tradition. The Pope doesn't criticize the Rosary. He criticizes this spiritual practice which in fact may warrant the criticism. Something to think about.

  52. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Jack said: "However mere quantity does not always equal devotion. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ warned us about those who think God will hear them because
    of their many words."

    But neither does quantity equal lack of devotion. The Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. That could add up to quite a lot of words.


  53. Anonymous11:12 AM

    Lou Doo, with all respect I think you're confusing several issues here.


  54. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Thank you Fr. Nate Harburg. I completely agree with you.

  55. Anonymous1:18 PM

    The first thing I noticed was the womyn wearing pants and neither womyn wearing a head covering. How jarring. Of course, from there, once I started reading the remarks, it was all a long slide downhill.

  56. I wonder, has the pope been asleep for the post 50 years? Is it a bad thing to desire an era before the Church was in open heresy and before homosexuals fluttered all over dioceses and disbelief in fundamental Catholic teachings is ignored or refuted and before massive noncompliance in Mass attendance? the pope misspoke, if not by intention, then in fact.

    Let's face it, the pope has done very little but set examples. Problem is he has not always set good examples.

  57. It wasn't mentioned that all of the people praying signed their names and the number of rosaries prayed. So how can the number of rosaries be chalked up to 'Pelagianism', and even if I signed my name to 100 rosaries, is that any indication of anything other than invoking the grace of God and His saints for HH? Continually disturbing...

  58. The point is not on the exact number, but when people commit to a number is quantifies a certain level of devotion. Saying one devote rosary can be more efficacious than 1000 careless ones, but we must assume the commitment is for devout rosaries and saying 3500 devout rosaries is much more of a commitment than saying "I will pray for you" That commitment might be just one Hail Mary. I hope the Pope did not actually say this, but that he was misquoted by Modernists.

  59. I know I'm late to the conversation, but I hope someone can answer my question. I've been a Catholic for 4 years (convert from Presbyterianism).

    So here are my questions:
    1)Is it wrong to give these if my intent is not to appear like a "big time pray-er," but rather someone who cares enough for someone to offer many prayers for them?

    2)What about Masses -- is it just as wrong to put my name in there -- for example "Mass intention: John Smith, by Jane Brown?"

  60. The new Calvinist pope would probably call you a Pelagian for that. It looks like you haven't truly escaped the Presbyterian church yet! The pope's a Presbyterian!

  61. Pope Francis seems to fit Jesus' condemnation of the Pharisees and Scribes in Matthew 23: 1-12. He is the first Pope I really didn't like. I even like John XXIII (a name of ill omen).


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