The Papal Year That Was: 1
I. A Mess of Modernist Pottage
I want to tell you something. I want a mess.
Who am I to judge?
I believe in God, not in a Catholic God.
Esau sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. Returning tired and famished from the fields he handed over his familial rights as the firstborn without a care in the world [Gen 25:29-34]. Carelessly and foolishly he swapped something less tangible but infinitely more valuable for something immediately attractive but of little value: i.e., for "a mess of pottage."
Before a razzle-dazzle papacy we do well to recall Esau's shortsightedness and misplaced priorities. Since we have all to lose and naught to gain by blithe acceptance of papal offerings like those above: the first proclaimed to youthful Catholic illiterates in Rio; the second to journalists; the third to an atheistic editor. Just several among many others from the 'Spirit of Vatican II Handbook for Corroding Catholic Faith and Conviction' that Pope Francis doubtless compiled from the arch-Modernist writings and sayings of his late Jesuit hero; Cardinal “You can’t make God a Catholic God" Martini.
Erupting regularly throughout the first year of his papacy, these corrosive soundbites have sparked messianic joy among the worldlings. "Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography tells the story of one of the most interesting and influential figures in church history," ran a typically breathless blurb, conflating Johnny-come-lately Francis with medieval Francis before he even had time to break in his Renault and copyright "humilitas."
The level of ludicrous hype echoed the hysteria which turned Barack Obama from a non-entity with zero credentials and a largely unknown but disturbing past, into a cult figure overnight. Early warnings about the new pontiff presented an ecclesiastical equivalent of sorts. "This election is incomprehensible," thundered a prescient mail from Buenos Aires,
he is not a polyglot, he has no Curial experience, he does not shine for his sanctity, he is loose in doctrine and liturgy, he has not fought against abortion or homosexual "marriage" [approved with practically no opposition from the episcopate], he has no manners to honour the Pontifical Throne. He has never fought for anything else than to remain in positions of power.
But the secular messiah himself is upbeat. "[Pope Francis] is someone who is first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away," gushed President Obama; obviously impressed by the fanciful papal depiction of a non-judgemental God Who "never, ever hurts us," Who doesn't want people "going around condemning everyone." Also a fan of the late Cardinal Bernadin, socialist Barack knows the social gospel when he hears it.
So does the Italian President, who thanked Francis for the "absence of all dogmatism" in the Holy See's "dialogue" with the world; for introducing elements of "doubt" and "uncertainty" in communicating the Catholic faith. On this point, Bishop Fellay remarked that
When the pope says that he wants a haziness in doctrine, when doubt is introduced, and not just haziness, but doubt, going so far as to say that even the great leaders of the faith, like Moses, allowed room for doubt. I know of only one doubt of Moses: the time when he doubted and struck the rock! Because of that the Good Lord punished him and he was not able to enter the Promised Land. Well then! I do not think that this doubt is to Moses's credit; the rest of the time he was rather forceful in his assertions, without a doubt.
It is really surprising, this idea that there must be doubts about everything; it is very peculiar! I will not say that this is reminiscent of Descartes, but it creates an atmosphere. And what is really dangerous is that they leave it at that in the newspapers and the media.
Indeed "they" do. Through his endless outpourings, so often off the cuff (unbefitting the Vicar of Christ) and therefore imprecise (befitting Modernism), our celebrity pontiff continues to offer anti-Catholic ammo to secularists everywhere. Not least through rambling-stream-of-consciousness interviews which, as we will see, have served to confuse, worry, divide and inflame the faithful; to "make a mess."
So, from the outset, after lengthy reflection and a wearing year of Francis, let me just say to all those future pontiffs reading this essay (you know who you are!), that if you wish to avoid the Papal Cockup Guarantee that comes with granting interviews: 1. Don't give them. 2. Umm.... 3. That's all really.
This is to say that we cannot blame the mendacious media for our own stupidity. If you insist on giving your enemy a gun during a war he'll shoot you; if you persist in handing him simplistic soundbite-grenades during a culture war he'll twist them to suit himself before lobbing them back at you in spades. Assuming, of course, the soundbites need twisting. If you're out to "make a mess," to appease the humanistic zeitgeist, it's a far more treacherous matter altogether.
Either way, papal interviews are needless and reckless. They ignore the scriptural admonition not to cast Catholic pearls before swine (i.e. before common men who despise the mysteries of the Faith), "lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you" [Matt. 7:6]. They play fast and loose with the papal office and the Faith it is divinely charged to protect and expound, always with potentially catastrophic consequences. As one exasperated writer underlined, this is obviously so because
The voice of the pope is the most powerful force on earth. Whenever the Vicar of Christ speaks publicly, it is no exaggeration to say that his words carry the potential to alter the course of human history. This is the truth by virtue of He whom the Roman Pontiff represents, Christ the King who rules over all things, and it remains the truth even for a pope who prefers instead to think of himself as the chief facilitator of a man made Synod of co-collaborators.
This theological truth plus the ominous pastoral truth (about the new pontiff and his former archdiocese) created a perfect storm: a papal "mess" waiting to happen.
"Of all the unthinkable candidates," wrote Marcelo González of Panorama Católico Internacional almost before the white smoke had evaporated, "Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst. Not because he openly professes doctrines against the faith and morals, but because, judging from his work as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, faith and morals seem to have been irrelevant to him. ... A sworn enemy of the Traditional Mass.... Famous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies), accustomed to the use of ... ambiguous expressions, it cannot be said that his magisterium is heterodox, but rather non-existent for how confusing it is."
Verbal and emotional "mess"
Ouch! But let's not hold back. As ever, we can safely leave the false charity and false obedience to backslapping neocons, who have reached new heights of complicity and self-deception these past twelve months, cheering and rationalising their 'humble' hero's every show-stopping utterance and action.
How quickly they rushed to mimic the secular overkill which both fed and exploited their papolatry; turning 13 March 2013 into a money-spinning Year Zero of the papacy, as if every word, gesture and act of Francis was a papal first. Emblematic of the parallel Catholic delirium was this hyperbolic effort to rescue one of the irredeemable interviews: "By his own definition of prophecy and even just six months into his papacy, it is clear that Pope Francis especially fulfills the office of prophet." Oblivious to the portents, another neocon marvelled that "Francis has already shown a propensity for ad-libbing during his speeches. And he is swamping social media with 9.3 million followers on Twitter (where his daily tweets are being retweeted an average of 11,000 times). Now he is using traditional print media to connect directly with people." Not, however, to connect them to Catholic orthodoxy in clear and unequivocal fashion.
In the first place, that would require a modicum of verbal restraint seemingly beyond the Holy Father. During his first interview, a verbal maelstrom conducted by Fr Antonio Spadaro S.J. on behalf of La Civiltà Cattolica and several other major Jesuit journals around the world, including the heretical America (which ran its English translation in the 19 September edition), Francis shed some light on his problematic circumlocution.
Apparently, 11,000+ words were not enough to fit in mention of the 50-year war waged against the Church by the Society of Jesus (exemplified by America). Or to discuss, say, why Jesuit seminaries the world over now either look like ghost towns or 'gay' bars. But he did reveal that he joined the Jesuits for "structure" because he was not a disciplined person. What he did have was a talent for empathy and for engaging people in conversation.
And how! Not just The Most Talked About Man in the World, according to the Global Language Monitor’s annual survey of the internet, Jorge is surely the most talkative man in the world! To the point that issuing clarifications to iron out his constant flow of ambiguous, imprudent, inflammatory and/or spurious statements has become de rigueur.
In the second place, pristine propagation of the Faith would entail a teaching pope who wants to be the Supreme and Sovereign Pontiff, not a mere pastoral Bishop of Rome. His preferred parochial title, this flags the synodical decentralisation of the "Vatican-centric" Church Francis publicly deplores and has vowed to change — with the Orthodox Churches, who reject papal primacy, as his ominous template: "From them we can learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and the tradition of synodality." (Post-it note to self: ship copy of Jim Likoudis' Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism to Suite 201, St. Martha's House.)
Connecting with clarity would also entail Scholastic precision which, by nature and subjective neo-Modernist training, is simply not in Jorge Bergoglio. "He was close to the people in Argentina," said his sister, "but today he seems better able to express his feelings." Quite. From day one teaching gave way to emoting. As a priest-exorcist who revived and filled his South American parish with no-nonsense preaching lamented to the present writer over lunch: "He says a lot — about nothing. There is no vision. No doctrine. No clarity." An English parish priest confided the same fear: "Doctrine has been kicked into the long grass. All will be form and no substance."
A winning PR policy tailored to superficial modernity, Catholic "form" without "substance" is keenly appreciated by the Lords of the Zeitgeist, who duly lionised Francis as Man of the Year (TIME), Best Dressed Man of 2013 (Esquire), LGBT Person of the Year (The Advocate), and on and on. But it is also the essence of the Modernist agenda condemned by St. Pius X for its universally devastating implications within and without the Church. On the secular front, Anthony Daniels (aka "Theodore Dalrymple"), a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist, has spent a lifetime dealing with the destructive personal and societal effects of the sort of "very loose" papal thinking and sentimentality he identifies in his ensuing article; which elevation of feeling over thought explains at once the "loose doctrine and liturgy" for which Cardinal Bergoglio was renowned, and the global meeting of fuzzy minds behind the Francis love-in.
Theologically, Francis revealed that mindset in the woolly/heterodox statements that filled his 1 October La Repubblica interview with avowed atheist Eugenio Scalfari. Also published in L'Osservatore Romano, the interview was removed from the Vatican's website a month later in view of the "widespread concerns" about its contents. "In particular," reported the National Catholic Register, "Scalfari’s purported account of Pope Francis' statement on conscience has caused dismay and consternation among faithful Catholics." The Holy Father is said to have "regretted" that the interview had been printed in L'Osservatore and included among his speeches on the Vatican’s website. Italian columnist Antonio Socci reported that papal spokesman Fr. Lombardi was "told to maintain that the text of the interview had not been revised by Pope Francis and that it was penned by Scalfari after an informal chat." Scalfari maintained that he had shown the text to Francis for his approval, but the Vatican said it was not clear how closely the Pope had read it.
All that said, consider these excerpts from that flaming/inflammatory "mess," now filed forever in cyberspace:
The Son of God became incarnate in the souls of men to instill the feeling of brotherhood. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father.
The damaging implications of such a view would escape even orthodox Catholics. The language seems familiar and never having read Pius X's Pascendi they do not recognise the Modernist agenda when they encounter it. Even so, as Catholic News Agency columnist Louis Verrechio pointed out in response, "the Incarnation of Our Blessed Lord has nothing whatsoever do with 'feelings of brotherhood.' If that were its purpose, Baptism would be of no use, nor would any need exist for conversion to the one true faith that Jesus established."
Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes.
Again, the liberal fuzzifying of familiar words and themes at Catholic expense. Clearly, love of neighbour, as vital as it is to Christian faith, is not "the only way" to salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Hence dying with Him and rising with Him in the waters of Baptism is necessary for salvation.
Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good. And I repeat it here. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.
It was this passage of textbook Modernism that most concerned the Vatican. Yet even if Scalfari fudged a little, the tone and content are broadly consistent with the Bergoglian line broadcast everywhere else. Presumably that is why Francis did not act immediately to denounce it. In any event, faced with the published text, Verrechio rightly protested that "In the space of just a relative handful of words, Pope Francis has defined 'the way' as a matter of brotherly love; 'the truth' as whatever one thinks is good, and 'the life' after which we seek as a goal for the here and now."
No wonder Fr Lombardi was quick to underline that "the interview is not part of Pope Francis’ Magisterium," explaining that "The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analysed. This is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website."
Too little, too late. As English Deacon Nick Donnelly blogged: "Though the Holy See has removed the Scalfari interview the harm has been done, and dissenters will continue to justify their dissent and sinful lifestyle choices by quoting Scalfari’s gloss on Pope Francis’ words. If only Pope Francis had denounced Scalfari’s mischievous fiction about conscience the moment he read it."
Pastorally, the Pope's impromptu press conference on the plane home from World Youth Day set the dire trend of complete disregard for Pope Felix III's warning that
"Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them."
Ignoring this traditional wisdom in the very "spirit of adolescent progressivism" he later criticised during a homily of 18 November — a "seductive" spirit of infidelity "to one's own traditions" — Francis, when asked how he would address "the whole question of the gay lobby?" famously opined: "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him?"
Verbally onwards and downwards he ventured, seeking to distinguish the "tendency" from the "lobby." But it was too late. By answering one euphemistic 'gay' question with another and so neglecting "to confound evil men" with a clear, counter-cultural statement of intent to cleanse the Church of sodomites, he had given the 'lobby' the sinful nod and wink it wanted to see, and has run with ever since.
'Lobby' authors of a feature article in the December Vanity Fair, on the secret lives of sodomites in the Vatican, exuded gratitude. "This may well have been the first time in history that a Pope has publicly uttered the term “gay” — the word that most men who feel romantic love for other men use to describe themselves — instead of the pathologizing 19th-century medical term “homosexual”," they wrote. Demonising the odious Benedict who "was rumored to have ordered that prelates who were living double lives be retired or removed from Rome. ... perhaps as many as 30 were eased out," they clearly delighted in the non-judgemental inaction of his sainted successor.
"LGBT Catholics who remain in the church now have more reason to hope that change is coming," they wrote:
Listen to the reaction to the pope's "Who am I to judge?" comment. "Pope Francis today uttered some of the most encouraging words a pontiff has ever spoken about gay and lesbian people," read a statement from the LGBT Catholic organization Equally Blessed. "In doing so, he has set a great example for Catholics everywhere." It went on with even greater anticipation, "Catholic leaders who continue to belittle gays and lesbians can no longer claim that their inflammatory remarks represent the sentiments of the pope. Bishops who oppose the expansion of basic civil rights — such as an end to discrimination in the work place — can no longer claim that the pope approves of their discriminatory agenda. Pope Francis did not articulate a change in the church’s teaching today, but he spoke compassionately, and in doing so, he has encouraged an already lively conversation that may one day make it possible for the church to fully embrace gay and lesbian Catholics."
Vanity Fair went on to speculate about the possibilities opened up for homo-'marriage' and other pro-homo legislation in the wake of the pope's comment. Since six of the nine "straight people seated on the Supreme Court are Roman Catholic" and "nearly a third of members [in the House of Representatives] are Catholic, more than any other religion," how many of them, they eagerly asked, will "consider the pope's advice against casting judgment?"
A fair question that speaks to the enormity of his open-ended response. So why on earth would he make it? Again, we find enlightenment among the instant red-flag commentaries posted on the day of his election by those familiar with the modus operandi and modus vivendi of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Marielena Montesino de Stuart gave this blunt warning:
Whatever Bergoglio has done to speak out against abortion (which is Catholicism 101 for any Catholic – never mind for a Cardinal) has been overshadowed by his scandalous liberal activities, which he carefully balances with his "people’s Cardinal" image – of riding the public bus and meeting with the poor. Bergoglio is actually a crafty PR man who knows how to perform the 'dance of the seven veils' – so as to keep his audience entertained with messages, which go out in every direction. [TheRomanCatholicWorld.com, 13/3/13]
This beguiling routine now defines the papacy, as when, on the same return flight to Rome, 'dancing' before his journalistic audience, Francis also unveiled his disparate taste in liturgies: embracing both charismatic anarchy and the disciplined beauty of the East. "At the end of the 1970's and in the early '80's I couldn't bear to look at them," he said of the former. "One time I had said that these confuse a liturgical celebration with a school for samba! Afterwards I got to know them better, I was converted." Turning 180 degrees, he then added that "The Orthodox Churches have preserved the liturgy that is so beautiful. We have lost a bit of the sense of adoration."
Similarly, purposeful signals went out "in every direction" from his "Who am I to judge?" retort to Brazilian journalist Ilze Scamparini. If the oblique message in that evasive non-response was not clear enough, it was bolstered by his simultaneous attempt to justify his appointment of Monsignor Battista Ricca, the former papal nuncio to Uruguay, as Prelate of the Institute for Religious Works (Vatican Bank) — despite a damning and indisputable L'Espresso exposé, alluded to by Scamparini, which revealed that Ricca both maintained his homosexual lover at the Uruguayan nunciature and frequented male prostitutes.
All the while the Vicar of Christ used the language of the enemy — "gay" or "gay person" no less than five times. Pointing this out in her "Open Letter to Pope Francis" of 9 November, Randy Engel wrote: "I must assume that your unfortunate decision to use the politically correct language of gayspeak was deliberate. In normal times this action might have been overlooked with a wink and a nod, but in wartimes it smells of treason and corruption." (A charge strengthened by Mrs Engel's subsequent revelation that the Vatican has engaged global giants Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Company — firms at the forefront of the systematic corporate promotion of homosexuality, abortion and other mortal sins — to help reform the government and operations of Vatican City.)
Those who cannot countenance a charge of treason would at least agree that it all added up to a simple, devastating equation: linguistic sell out + quizzical one-liner = "mess." As the Vanity Fair piece highlighted, it gifted the media all manner of tantalising possibilities and conclusions.
Israel's Haaretz.com, for one,announced that Francis had "departed from the document of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, declaring that men with deep homosexual tendencies cannot be priests." Neo-conservatives would wave away this juxtaposition of the merciful Francis and the pitiless Benedict as a media caricature unworthy of comment. But the implied return to lax screening of seminarians, déjà vu all over again, is not such a quantum media leap. If the Holy Father's 'non-judgemental' response to the unspeakable Mgr Ricca scandal is not sufficient to raise neocon eyebrows, it is said to "pale in comparison to myriad sex scandals that the Argentine Catholics have witnessed during 'the Bergoglio era'." According to the following report, this included blind-eye turning in respect of his much vaunted 'slum priests.' In light of what has transpired since, this post-conclave blog rings true:
Francis was the perfect candidate to weaken Papacy to the point of irrelevance. I visited Argentina 2 years ago, when I was working for a Russian news agency and visited some slums in Buenos Aires to cover the work of the “curas villeros” (slum priests) in the many shanty towns of the capital. I was shocked to see that practically all those priests had concubines and had sons with them, others were openly homosexual or had transexual partners and everyone knew about this! I talked with people from the slums and asked them what did they think about this? Their answers were basically the same: “it’s OK, they love each other, they harm nobody.” I also talked with more cultured (and minoritarian) sectors of the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires who were infuriated by the situation but they were unable to do anything about it. They said they were largely outnumbered by the “populist priests.” They also told me that all the high hierarchy of the Church in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio included, were aware of the dubious morality of the slum priests.
The author had more to say about the ruinous Bergoglian social gospel at work in the slums: "a doctrine of sterile assistentialism that leads nowhere, keeps the poor in poverty, the lazy in laziness and the sinner happy with his sins." But leaving that aside for now, in joining up the above dots to all the rest, English blogger Mundabor concluded:
I have never been in an Argentinian slum, and can therefore not vouch for the truthfulness of what the author writes. But boy, it all makes sense.
[...] Think of Francis’ reaction when the Ricca scandal erupted. Arrogant jokes about the "gay lobby" not having an ID card, the "who am I to judge" mantra, and an astonishingly stubborn attitude in leaving an exposed sodomite at his place – and in the priesthood. Is this not the behaviour of one who has lived in the middle of homosexual priests all his priestly life, and has happily ignored their perversion and sodomitic behaviour? Is this not the behaviour of one who does not care two straws whether a priest is a sodomite, and is even unable to understand the scandal that erupts outside of his cosy world when one of his closest men is exposed as one of them? How can one otherwise explain that whilst I write this, Monsignor Ricca is still a priest undisturbed, and is even still occupying his high place?
And the red flags keep on flapping. Repubblica, for instance,reported that an oxymoronic "Catholic LGBT" group in Florence had written a letter to the pope in June, asking for "openness and dialogue" and noting that lacking it "always feeds homophobia." Other 'Catholic' promoters of homosexuality had written to his predecessors, but Francis is the first to pen a reply. The report noted "with a level of amazement" that the pope gave the unrepentant sodomites his blessing. But not, as the press quickly gathered, with the disciplinary rider to "sin no more" [Jn 5:14; Jn 8:11]. "While the comments [to the journalists on the plane] did not signal a change in Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are 'intrinsically disordered'," reported the Associated Press, "they indicated a shift in tone under Francis' young papacy and an emphasis on a church that is more inclusive and merciful rather than critical and disciplinary." It went on:
In Italy, the country's first openly gay governor, Nichi Vendola, urged fellow politicians to learn a lesson from the Pope. ... Vendola praised the Pope for drawing a clear line between homosexuality and pedophilia. "We know that a part of reactionary clerical thought plays on the confusion between these two completely different categories," he said.
Thus, mollycoddled by Francis, the likes of Vendola are not only confirmed in their sins but relieved of all pressure to publicly concede and deplore homo-pederasty in general, and the hugely disproportionate abuse of pre- and post-pubscent boys by a rampant 'gay' subset in particular, not least within the post-conciliar priesthood. In stark contrast to the joyful homosexual response to this betrayal of the most innocent and vulnerable, the following email from a mother and veteran culture war combatant encapsulates the distress of the perplexed faithful:
Pope Francis says homosexuals deserve "respect, compassion, sensitivity, (— yes, as human men and women, not homosexuals/LGBTT) and avoiding every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard." "The tendency to [homosexuality] is not the problem."
Oh really! Did I miss where he said that it is a disorder and not an identity and needs to be remedied! Or that homosexuality/pedophilia is a "problem" that must be stopped, avoided, treated for the sake of the individual as well as others and civilization! I guess he hasn't read Saint Peter Damian, Saint Catherine, Pope Leo and the multitude of scriptures and Church teachings (even some post-Vatican II). Or that homosexuality/sodomy is one of the four sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance.
He has just opened the floodgates to the hearts, minds, souls and bodies of our children and grandchildren to being homosexually indoctrinated/molested.
This is abominable.
Lord spare us.
It is a sad and sobering day indeed when we find the ruler of Russia refusing to walk in 'gay' lockstep, by promoting laws that ban the promotion of homosexual propaganda to young people, while the ruler of Vatican City falls in line.
Homosexuals are welcome at the upcoming Winter games in Sochi, but they must "leave the children alone," says Vladimir.
Why this aversion to reality and the lack of papal understanding, witness, conviction and courage before a 'lobby' that imperils souls, lives and civilisation?
Again, the bedrock answer can be found in Pascendi. Other contributing factors involve secondary principles, and effects which are merely symptomatic of the assimilation and acting out, to a greater or lesser extent, of the Modernist tenets condemned by Pius X. Before returning to his deviation from Tradition, however, let us consider some further major fallout from the nuclear pronouncements of Francis.
Amid the curial mop-ups on his behalf, the Holy Father himself sometimes tosses a conciliatory bone to the orthodox he has aggrieved: as with his blink-and-you'd-miss it 20-word anti-abortion 'corrective' the day after telling us, via America, that we mustn't "obsess" over abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage "all the time." This astonishing papal line was soon reinforced through his American nuncio, who relayed to the US Bishops that Francis "doesn’t want cultural warriors" (pro-life/pro-family "ideologues") running their conference, but "bishops with pastoral sensitivity."
The revelation that Pope Francis worries about episcopal "cultural warriors" is deeply disturbing. It reveals a fanciful view of the Church at complete odds with the tragic reality. In fact, the softly-softly "pastoral sensitivity" he proposes has been de-facto episcopal policy the world over for decades. It has already cost untold lives and souls. Now, with the backing of the Supreme Pontiff, it will claim many more. Commenting on the political complicity of Californian bishops, to name just one episcopal bloc, a blogger summed up the reality:
Had the bishops of California spoken out years ago when these politicians first began promoting abortion and homosexuality as human rights, they wouldn’t be in this situation now. They should have publically condemned those sinful practices then. They wanted to “go along to get along” and be friends with the devil. Bishops wanted to be viewed as congenial and modern, not clinging to outdated customs and mores. Now, they give everyone the impression that they condone and even praise abortion and same-sex marriage — and maybe they do. This encourages politicians to enact more laws that please Satan.
As for the soul-destroying papal rebuke itself — urging those in the thick of the culture wars to pipe down — it surely delighted the America readership, clerical fainthearts, the liberal press, and all our anti-life enemies. But it would have saddened John Paul II, who said precisely the opposite in his own book-length interview:
It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being. [Crossing the Theshold of Hope, 1994]
Mercifully, it also dismayed a number of American prelates, including Cardinal Raymond Burke who found the papal views "not altogether easy to interpret" (read: 'an unholy mess'). Via EWTN, he quickly countered Francis by insisting "We can never talk about these issues enough. We are up against a massacre of the unborn. There is far too much silence — people do not want to talk about [issues such as same-sex marriage] because the topic is not 'politically correct.' But we cannot be silent any longer or we will find ourselves in a situation that will be very difficult to reverse."
It is a measure of the confused and divided ranks of the Church Militant, neatly summarised herein by Michael O'Halloran, that this (traditional-leaning) neoconservative prelate who turned tail and abandoned Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice's 2011 Londonconference at the merest hint of collegial conflict, would now stand firm in the sort of papal controversy usually left to non-nonsense traditionalists. Perhaps the rain of indignant letters which fell upon His Eminence following his eleventh-hour PEEP betrayal, voicing disgust and bewilderment at his selling out faithful Catholics in the service of a false peace, had their subliminal effect?
In any event, kudos to Cardinal Burke for giving episcopal voice to widespread lay consternation on this occasion. He also queried the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. "To me it is not yet possible to find the exact form to describe this document," he said, "but it seems to me that it can not be considered as part of the Magisterium." His stand was not without repercussions. For breaking collegial ranks, 'Francis the Humble' summarily dumped the orthodox Cardinal from the Congregation for Bishops and replaced him with effete career cleric Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who, unlike Burke, freely dispenses the Body and Blood of Christ to notorious pro-abort politicians.
The New York Times rejoiced: "Pope Francis moved on Monday [16 Dec.] against a conservative American cardinal who has been an outspoken critic of abortion and same-sex marriage, by replacing him on a powerful Vatican committee with another American who is less identified with the culture wars within the Roman Catholic Church." For good measure he added still another faint-hearted liberal clone to the same Congregation: Archbishop Vincent "God is not a Catholic" Nichols — ironically, the very prelate Burke feared upsetting if he were seen to associate himself with righteous critics of Nichols and the complicit English hierarchy!
Well might we remind Cardinal Burke that what goes around, comes around. But it is far more important to understand that this turning of the ecclesiastical wheel towards the egregious likes of Wuerl and Nichols foreshadows the wholesale stacking of episcopal sees with their liberal ilk; thereby fostering ever more rapid descent into heterodoxy and material heresy through that studious ambiguity beloved of 'progressives.' In this regard the "mess" is especially purposeful and Francis leads from the front. Consider the conundrum he posed immediately before his testy rebuke of those who talk about "issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods... all the time":
I … consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she now lives in peace and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?
The modus operandi will be very familiar to readers on every continent. Locally, it recalls the infamous rejoinder of Archbishop Nichols when a TV interviewer suggested the inevitable sanctioning of women bishops, women priests and 'gay unions' by the Church. "Who knows what's down the road?" he replied. Like Nichols, this posing of questions without answering them is part and parcel of Jorge Bergoglio's policy of non-confrontation and serial accommodation, as his track record in Buenos Aires demonstrates. At one point during a book-length 'dialogue' with his arch-liberal Argentinian friend Rabbi Skorka, he typically says [emphasis added]: "For the time being, I am in favour of maintaining celibacy" — leaving yet another question mark hanging in the air.
This slippery practice — or 'practical Modernism' — was pointed out by a Mexican journalist, Lucrecia Rego de Plana, who on 26 September wrote an open letter to the Holy Father, in which she addresses him with the familiar form tu because she writes to him confidently, "as to my own father." The DICI news service published her legitimate questions:
When you spoke about the woman who was cohabiting after her divorce and an abortion, you said that "she now lives in peace." I wonder: Can a woman who has voluntarily abandoned the grace of God live in peace? Previous popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI, said that it is not possible to find peace apart from God, but Pope Francis has affirmed it. What should I support, the Magisterium of the ages or this novelty? Must I affirm that, as of today, in order to be faithful to the pope, peace can be found in a life of sin?
Then you asked the question, but you left it without any answer as to what the confessor should do, as though you wanted to open Pandora’s box, knowing that there are hundreds of priests who erroneously counsel couples to continue cohabiting. Why, my Pope, my dear Pope, did you not tell us in a few words what should be advised in cases like that one, instead of opening the door to doubt in sincere hearts?
A little earlier on in her letter, speaking for very many, Rego de Planas also writes:
Many great preachers felt devastated upon hearing that you had said that it was no longer necessary to speak about some topics about which the Church has already spoken and that are set forth in the Catechism. Tell me, dear Pope Francis, what are we supposed to do, we Christians who want to be faithful to the Pope but also to the Magisterium of the Church and to Tradition? Should we stop preaching whereas St. Paul tells us to preach "in season and out of season"? We set aside the courageous preachers, we force them to be silent, while we coddle sinners and sweetly tell them to read the Catechism, if they can and if they want to, so that they will know what the Church says.
"Messing" with Tradition
The confusion, upset and reaction elicited by crushing rebukes and damaging ambiguities was mirrored in the righteous outcry against the Pope's anti-traditionalist barrage in the same interview. Ever blind to his own liberal ideology, imbibed from Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (the Teilhardian apostate he lauds as a "prophetic figure" and "Father for the whole Church"), Francis only sees ideological dangers in dogmatic tradition.
This was flagged with crystal clarity during a 2007 interview with 30 Days magazine, wherein Cardinal Bergoglio exclaimed: "One does not remain faithful, like the traditionalists or the fundamentalists, to the letter. Fidelity is always a change, a blossoming, a growth!" How eerily Teilhard and Carlo Maria live on in their Jesuit brother Jorge! As much in the evolutionary emphasis as in the caricature of pharasaic traditionalists; an insulting habit of denigration/misrepresentation he has now turned into an unseemly papal art form. To the delight of his liberal constituency, no doubt! We can well envisage the editors of America punching the air and high-fiving each other throughout the Spadoro interview, amid hoots of 'Yeessss!' each time Francis dissed the traddies and the Tradition they honour.
A patronising and spurious nod to Summorum kicked off the gratuitous assault:
Then there are particular issues, like the liturgy according to the Vetus Ordo. I think the decision of Pope Benedict [his decision of July 7, 2007, to allow a wider use of the Tridentine Mass] was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity. What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.
"Has he even read Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying explanatory letter?" queries Louis Verrechio. "The latter refers to the Traditional Mass as 'a precious treasure to be preserved … for the good of the faithful.' So much for Francis' condescending and culpable re-interpretation. The spirit of Vatican II blinkers are the true source of ideological blindness."
If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal 'security,' those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists — they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies. I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life.
Truly, Teilhard himself could not have smeared traditionalists or undermined the Traditional role of Holy Mother Church (to provide steadfast assurance, clarity, and safety) with more aplomb. Nor could Cardinal Martini have phrased the Pope's ensuing misrepresentation-by-omission, a classic of its Modernist type, more succinctly:
St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time … The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.
In the spirit of Sts Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas, who call us to rebuke prelates "even publicly" if they "stray from the right way" and imperil the Faith, Mr Verrechio issued this dutiful explanatory corrective:
St. Vincent of Lerins in no way encouraged "different understandings." Rather, he said, "Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all … we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed."
Pope St. Pius X, in his magnificent Encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, On the Doctrines of the Modernists, said regarding the false notion that human experience somehow renders a "different understanding" of Catholic truth, "This doctrine of experience is also under another aspect entirely contrary to Catholic truth. It is extended and applied to tradition, as hitherto understood by the Church, and destroys it."
Verrechio adds this logical, not to say damning, conclusion:
Furthermore, the Oath Against Modernism states very clearly:
“Finally, I declare that I am completely opposed to the error of the modernists who hold that … dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.” [Emphasis added]
This, I’m afraid, is a pledge this Holy Father could not, in good conscience, take.
Too harsh? Certainly for delicate neocon sensibilities. For our part, while we have gladly publicised more robust and identifiably Catholic statements and actions of this pontificate, we are ever mindful of Pius X's blunt denunciation of all-things-to-all-men Modernism; how it ebbs and flows between truths, half-truths and errors in the process of synthesising all the heresies since Christ.
It is because neoconservatives are far too easily pleased by 'intermittent orthodoxy' that they happily ignore this contrived Modernist "mess" of patent deviations from revealed, protected, and plainly understood Catholic teaching, especially when voiced by the Vicar of Christ. Blinded by false obedience they demonise those who refuse to ignore the evidence of their own eyes and ears. Episcopally-praised Catholic apologists and authors like Louis Verrechio himself, for instance, who can hardly be blamed for the laundry list of Modernistic views expressed by Francis yet condemned by his holy predecessor. Anyone who has read the excoriating Pascendi and is familiar with its saintly author's battle with the early Modernists will picture Pius X nodding in tearful agreement with Verrechio's assessments, including his (italicised) reactions to these further problematic papal passages from the Francis-Spadaro marathon (note: the habitual use of lower case “c” for the Church is America’s ideological statement, not ours!):
During [a recent] return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
"Does the Vicar of Christ really believe that the doctrine of the faith is but an 'opinion' that threatens to 'interfere' with an individual’s spiritual life? I would be delighted to say that there is good reason to dismiss this possibility out of hand, but I’m afraid I cannot."
As if to pre-empt and quash all such queries, Francis went on in the same breath to state that "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church." So that's all right, then.
When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself … The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.
"Pope Francis appears to believe that Catholic teaching must be adapted to humankind, not vice versa. Likewise, he believes that Church teaching does not form the man; rather, the man forms the teaching."
To underline his humanistic priorities, the following month the pope informed the cloistered sisters of St. Clare in Assisi that "Nuns must not be too spiritual, and must endeavour to be experts in humanity in order that convent life is not purgatory."
But enough incriminating statements! Shooting them down is like shooting fish in a barrel. The sheer perversity of our loquacious pontiff granting an audience to the Jesuits and America in the first place, then peppering the interview with traditionalist put-downs instead of putting down (suppressing) the moribund Society of Jesus, speaks complicit volumes. As George Neumayr commented:
It says a lot about the crisis in the Church that the first Jesuit pope in history came at the very moment the order was weakest and most corrupt. The Pope’s scolding of “small-minded” restorationists for "pastoral" incompetence is laughable in light of his own order’s disintegration: What exactly would the editors of America and the other Jesuits whose liberalism Pope Francis was flattering in the interview, know about saving souls? Just look at the U.S. Congress: it is overflowing with Jesuit graduates who have abandoned the faith and support abortion and gay rights. Oh-so-pastoral Jesuits, heal thyself.
Has Pope Francis not been paying attention for the last 50 years? The only vibrant religious orders are traditional ones; the only packed churches are traditional ones; the only seminaries producing shepherds for the flock are traditional ones. To use his analogy, at the Catholic Left’s "field hospitals," all the patients are dead.
Pope Francis has made many commendable remarks about the Virgin Mary, Satan, and the need to go to confession, among others. And some of the criticism does seem petty: Who cares if he bunks at the Vatican hotel or putts around in a used car? That's fine. [Not if it invites derision; demeaning the divinely-instituted office he now embodies. - Ed., CO] But it is not petty, disrespectful, or un-Catholic to object to the liberal parts of his agenda. Indeed, the need for a St. Paul to correct him grows with each passing week as his pontificate emboldens the Church’s enemies and undercuts her friends and most loyal members. [American Spectator, 25/9/13]
Failing a new St. Paul, that thankless yet urgent task of rebuke and correction falls to us. So let us not shirk our baptismal duty. Nor sell our spiritual birthright for a mess of Modernist pottage — even when proffered by our own Holy Father.
To continue next month.