As a result of many of the words and actions of this current Pope, more Catholics than ever are realizing that there is a grave crisis in the Church. This realization extends to not only the laymen, but even to a certain degree to priests and bishops. Indeed, how could one almost not notice the blatantly modernistic, radical direction taken by this pontificate? The result is one of the greatest divisions the Church has ever seen.
However, although more Catholics are noticing the Modernism promoted by Pope Francis; some propose the solution of a more "conservative" Pope such as John Paul II or Benedict XVI. But were the post-Vatican II Popes preceding Pope Francis truly conservative? Are the errors now being promoted in this pontificate truly novel to the Church?
The answer is, for the most part, a resounding NO. While Pope Francis is taking further steps in regards to "pastoral" circumstances(e.g. Amoris Laetitia) and secular affairs and has a much more casual approach in delivery, most of the ambiguities and errors promoted are the same as those presented by his immediate predecessors. The problem lies not so much with Pope Francis, a son of the Council, as it does with the aforementioned Council and the New mass. As a recent blog post by Magnificat Media Radio stated, Pope Francis simply has his foot pushed all the way down on the accelerator with the car traveling 88 MPH instead of 55.
A few short summaries to prove my point:
Pope Paul VI:
We could not begin without mentioning that Paul VI continued on with Vatican II as the liberalism was beginning to dominate and approved its final version, riddled with ambiguities and errors particularly concerning (false) ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality. And how could the Church not forget that he was the Pope who introduced and imposed the New mass, which the Ottaviani Intervention condemned as "a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent" which contained "no intention of presenting the Faith".
"Paul VI did not hide his liberal leanings; at the Council, the men he chose as moderators to replace the presidents appointed by John XXIII, were Cardinal Agagianian, a cardinal of colorless personality from the Curia, and Cardinals Lercaro, Suenens and Dopfner, all three liberals and the pope’s friends. The presidents were sidelined at the head table, and these three liberals directed the conciliar debates. In the same way, Paul VI supported the liberal faction that opposed the tradition of the Church throughout the entire Council. This is a recognized fact. Paul VI repeated—I quoted it to you—the exact words of Lammenais at the end of the Council: “L’Eglise ne demande que la liberte” – the Church only seeks freedom—a doctrine condemned by Gregory XVI and Pius IX."
"Of greater gravity are the words with which Paul VI suppressed Latin in the liturgy after the Council, and they are even more characteristic of his liberal psychology. After restating all the advantages of Latin: a sacred language, an unchanging language, a universal language, he calls, in the name of adaptation, for the “sacrifice” of Latin, admitting at the same time that it will be a great loss for the Church. Here are his very words, reported by Louis Salleron in his book La nouvelle messe [The New Mass] (Nouvelles Editions Latines, 2nd ed., 1976, p. 83)
On March 7, 1965, he said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s square:
'It is a sacrifice that the Church makes in renouncing Latin, a sacred language, beautiful, expressive, and elegant. The Church sacrifices centuries of tradition and unity of language in the name of an ever-growing desire for universality'."
A recommended book is Fr. Luigi Villa's Paul VI Beatified?.
Pope John Paul II:
..."Another reason for reservation concerning this beatification is that throughout John Paul’s long pontificate faithful Catholics were bewildered and scandalized by numerous manifestly imprudent papal statements and gestures the likes of which the Church has never witnessed in 2000 years. To recall just a few of the more well-known examples:
The numerous theologically dubious apologies for the presumed sins of Catholics in prior epochs of Church history.
The Pope’s public kissing of the Koran during the 1999 visit to Rome of a group of Iraqi Christians and Muslims.
The astonishing exclamation of March 21, 2000 in the Holy Land: “May St. John the Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan...” [Cf. “Papal Homily in the Holy Land,” vatican.va].
The bestowal of pectoral crosses—symbols of episcopal authority—on George Carey and Rowan Williams.
Pope John Paul’s active participation in pagan worship at a “sacred forest” in Togo.
The “ecumenical” vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, the very heart of the visible Church, in which the Pope consented to pray together with Lutheran “bishops”, including women claiming to be successors of the Apostles."
Also, what more opposition could be shown to Tradition than to attempt to "excommunicate" those who wished to continue it?
Recommended books are Fr. Villa's Karol WojtylaBeatified, as well as Pope John Paul II: Doubts About a Beatification by Fr. Patrick de la Rocque and Bp. Bernard Fellay.
Pope Benedict XVI:
Although a few of Pope Benedict's actions have been truly beneficial to Tradition(Summorum Pontificum and the lifting of the false SSPX "excommunications" being the most notable ones), he too was a man of the Council. To name one example, this Pope took a step forward in "ecumenism" by inviting to his Assisi meeting a spokesman on behalf of those with no religion(http://www.dici.org/en/news/assisi-1986-2011-reform-in-continuity/). Also, while Pope Benedict was open to discussions with the SSPX, it eventually became clear that he would not grant them a personal prelature unless they would compromise their positions regarding Vatican II and the New mass. Pope Francis does not even appear to be quite so stringent on these requirements.
It is also noteworthy that the radical diocesan bishops opposed by even many "neo-Catholics"(to borrow a Chris Ferrara term) were placed in their positions by usually John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Why did they so often choose bishops of so little faith?
Now, during this Pontificate, we have the unusual opportunity of hearing the words of another Pope at the same time. If Pope Benedict is as traditional as many claim, surely we should expect strong words regarding these reforms of Pope Francis? The opposite has been true. In all of the few interviews Benedict XVI has spoken about this Pontificate, he has used the most glowing of terms! Some may respond that Benedict is under heavy pressure, thus somewhat excusing him. This scenario is perhaps worse. If Benedict XVI is aware of the gravity of the situation, but does not respond accordingly on account of an apparent "pressure", what does that say about him? Does he not have a duty to fight for the Faith, especially given his position? Even if his suggested enemies would go so far as to kill him, he would go straight to Heaven as a martyr!
To conclude: One must treat these subjects with prudence when encountering a Catholic discovering Tradition, but there is no use denying the obvious. The reason the Church is in such a great crisis is not only due to Pope Francis, but also to his immediate predecessors. This is not a judgement on the personal intentions of these Popes, but a simple statement based on objective reality. The Church will only fully emerge from this crisis when we have a Pope who will truly reverse the direction the Church has sailed since Vatican II. Let us pray for that great Pope!