Rorate Caeli

"Upon this rock...": But what about the present situation? Fr Serafino Lanzetta has answers

What does it mean to say that the Apostle Peter—and each of his successors—is kepha, the rock on which Christ has built His Church? Could this rock ever be allowed to crumble, without the Church herself crumbling? Can a successor of Peter fail in his office, or even in his faith, without negating the Church’s indefectibility? What are the nature—and limits—of the pope’s infallibility and primacy? Has the role of the supreme pontiff sometimes been exaggerated or distorted? Today questions like these are asked with greater urgency than ever, owing to the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Fr Serafino Lanzetta's new book Super Hanc Petram: The Pope and the Church at a Dramatic Moment in History has just been released by Os Justi Press. The author is a Marian Franciscan based in Portsmouth, UK, a lecturer in Systematic Theology at St Mary’s University Twickenham and at the Theological Faculty of Lugano, and an author of many articles and books. He is becoming increasingly well-known in Anglophone circles. (Not long ago, Os Justi published another work of his: God's Abode with Man: The Mystery of Divine Grace.)
In Super Hanc Petram, Fr Lanzetta answers the aforementioned questions with balance, realism, and confidence in Divine Providence. Lanzetta investigates Pope Francis’s sources, leitmotifs, methods, and goals, examining and documenting:

• the return of nominalism and pragmatism;
• the elevation of pastoral care over doctrine;
• the proclamation of a mercy that severs charity from truth;
• the substitution of “a people on the move” for “the mystical body” and of a panreligious humanistic fraternity for the salvific Christian mission;
• the inversion of hierarchy by synodality;
• the selective use of Vatican II as an impetus for “paradigm shifts”;
• an evolutionary vision of doctrinal development driven by sociological-cultural theories; and
• the supplanting of eschatology by ecology.

Pastors, theologians, laity, converts, non-Catholics interested in the Church and her relationship with modernity—all will find Fr Lanzetta’s study valuable for the light it sheds on the age-old office of the papacy and on the tempestuous reign of its most recent incumbent.

Readers will find very interesting the pages Fr Serafino -- a former member of the once-flourishing Franciscans of the Immaculate, shattered by the Roman hammer, and someone with intimate knowledge of how this pope has acted against traditional religious life and liturgy -- dedicates to Francis's views of Sacrosanctum Concilium and of the meaning of the liturgical reform. It is not so much the details of the reform that concern the pope (indeed, his insouciance when it comes to following rubrics is all too well know) as is it the overarching vision of a modern reinterpretation and, almost, "rebranding" of Christianity. There is a properly theological impetus behind his anti-traditional initiatives and appointments. Fr Serafino helps us to see, once again, the profound connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi, in this way responding (once again) to the surprisingly long-lived superficiality of those who would insist on seeing liturgical matters as "merely disciplinary" and as having no great significance, as if the changes of the 1960s-70s could be compared to mere rearrangements of the same Catholic furniture. For Pope Francis, at least, there is much more going on than that; discipline is the least of his concerns (regrettably, a feature of his pontificate that has manifested itself in a variety of domains).

The book is available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats, both from the publisher (here) and from all Amazon outlets (such as here).
Praise for the book

“Fr Lanzetta’s compact treatise provides clarity on the nature of the papal office together with an accurate analysis of the sources, aims, and problems of Pope Francis’s theology. At a time of clerical corruption, and misleading doctrinal and disciplinary statements from the pope, he offers us reasons for continuing fidelity to perennial Catholic doctrine as well as respectful criticism of deviations from it. Super Hanc Petram is a timely gift for a storm-tossed Church.” —Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, author of Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph over the Darkness of the Age

“Father Lanzetta combines theological scholarship of the first order with extensive pastoral experience… His position is far from both synodalism and hyperpapalism and appears as a balanced reaffirmation of the Petrine primacy amid the contemporary chaos. This book is convincing and clear; it satisfies our need for understanding.” —Roberto de Mattei, author of Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church

“This is a serious and important critical work on the theological and philosophical roots of Pope Francis’s thought. The author is erudite and engaging, at times polemical. Even if not all will agree with his interpretation of the Second Vatican Council and its legacy, the Catholic reader—not only scholars but also theologically interested laity—will profit by wrestling with this learned study.” —Eduardo J. Echeverria, Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and author of Pope Francis: The Legacy of Vatican II

“There can be no Church without the Pope, and no Pope without the Church. On that all Catholics agree. But complications arise when a Pope misinterprets his role, and chooses to judge—rather than to defend—the faith that the Church has always cherished. Then the relationship between Pope and Church, a relationship properly based on mutual service and submission, is broken. Father Lanzetta explores the theological implications of the conflict that we now face, as well as its possible origins.” —Philip F. Lawler, author of Lost Shepherd: How Pope Francis is Misleading His Flock

“Father Serafino Lanzetta is the type of priest that a good Catholic who really wants to sanctify himself would dream of having as a confessor or, better yet, as a spiritual director. He has solid principles, his feet on the ground, and a humble way of speaking that conquers hearts. Additionally, in his lectures and writings, he knows how to interweave systematic theology and deep spirituality. These qualities shine through in Super Hanc Petram, making it a rewarding read. He masterfully tackles the thorniest questions of the current crisis in the Church and in the papacy, while maintaining a supernatural perspective.” —José Antonio Ureta, author of Pope Francis’s “Paradigm Shift”: Continuity or Rupture in the Mission of the Church?

(For those who prefer video format, or who might like to share the announcement with others in that format, I introduce the book in a 5-minute video here.)