CRITICAL CATHOLIC COMMENTARY
“Know you not that the friendship
of this world is the enemy of God?
Mary, Conceived without Sin,
pray for us who have recourse to Thee
We do not argue that the Seat
of Saint Peter is empty — which is to say that we
are not Sedevacantists (from the Latin “sede
vacante”, “the chair being vacant”)
Some popes have been saints. Some have been scoundrels. Jorge Bergoglio, regrettably, is certainly and most notoriously among the latter.
Petri” is not and has never been empty (apart, of course,
from the interregnum between the death of a pope and the
nomination of his successor — the longest of which was 3
years (1268-1271) With Francis occupying the Cathedra
Petri since 2013 however, this position has become increasingly
untenable. At what point does a man — including a pope —
cease to be in communion with the Church? At what point
does he cease to be Catholic? If he does not hold what the
Church teaches, what Sacred Scripture teaches, what Sacred
Tradition teaches, what the authentic Magisterium of the
Church has taught for 2000 years — in what sense do we hold
him to be in communion with what he has openly
repudiated — even suppressed?
Is the Pope Catholic?
Many Catholics and non-Catholics have, for some time now, nevertheless asked themselves what was once an amusing question intended to be a litmus test for the faithfulness of a Catholic. “How can you possibly question her fidelity to the Church? She’s as Catholic as the pope!” This, of course, presupposes that the pope is the paradigmatic Catholic entrusted with preserving and promoting Catholic teaching, dogma, the Sacred Deposit of Faith, the authentic and unbroken Catholic Magisterium, and millennia of Catholic Tradition.
This question can legitimately be asked — but without anticipating a positive response. Indeed, under the papacy of Francis, to be “as Catholic as the pope” is to be an uncertain, uncommitted Catholic, unsure of the credentials of the Catholic Church and uncertain of the morality historically predicated of Her and derived from Sacred Scripture. Anon-creedal Unitarian Universalist would be more in keeping with the mind of Francis than Catholicism as it has been historically understood.
Before we attempt to make sense of this apparent paradox, there are a few things that we must be clear about; harsh as they may appear, they are quite nearly incontrovertible:
Francis is not a proponent of Catholicism , but an ideologue whose primary concern is an elusive and esoteric notion of “encounter” with all that is alien to Catholicism and most often antagonistic toward it — a program of assimilating other cultures by repudiating Catholic dogma and identity. For Francis there is nothing specific in the way of identity — essentially there is no differentiation—nothing is unique, nothing idiomatic: it is only sameness expressed in other terms that can never be incongruent. Uniqueness is anathema — even if that means sacrificing millennia old Catholic beliefs inseparable from the unique identity of Catholicism. Catholicism is an obstacle and if it is not consonant with every other belief system, it is Catholicism that must yield. Remember the absurd “Encounter Groups” which proliferated in the 60’s? (not coincidentally the era of Vatican II) These were even more flexible than Francis’s obscure — and rigid vision of the notion of Encounter. Yes, “rigid!” — the very epithet that Francis solely reserves for Traditional Catholics.
A “so-called” Catholic identity?
Why “so-called”? It appears that for Francis there is no unique “Catholic identity” that is distinguishable from every and any other social and religious identity. Each is simply a culturally inflected iteration of the other.
A “fraternal society” (much as Masons envision) rather than a Communion of Saints binding every Catholic to every other Catholic in the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant in Heaven with the singular goal of reaching Heaven, rather than “perfecting society on earth” as the Communists envision? Every member of a “fraternal society” will eventually perish. But not so for those who cleave to the Body of Christ (His Church) — and not the World — and who will not perish, but have everlasting life. (Saint John 3.15)
The Most Compelling Question is this: Given Francis’s Malfeasance, Why does God Allow it?
Even a Pope I Given the Free Will
to do what he wills — rather than What God
In a word,
it is completely independent, self-referent,
and completely free. However faithfully or unfaithfully
a pope executes his Petrine Office is largely determined
by the man. He may be good or he may be evil. In either
case — even given the exalted office conferred upon
him — he is withal and necessarily exercising
his own free will. Even a pope is free to do what
he wills, rather than what God wills. He can incorporate
and exercise the legitimate responsibilities of his
office, or he can be despotic and utterly ignore them,
and with them, God. It is up to the man.
We must equally
remember two episodes, one from the Old Testament, and
one from the New Testament in which we find God
bringing good even out of evil:
Pilate surely believed that it was in his power to crucify Christ or to free Him — but Jesus responds:
“Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above.” (Saint John 19.11)
These are two striking examples of God’s Permissive Will — not simply respecting the free will He conferred upon man, but of His power to bring a seemingly impossible good out of the evil devices of men. Most often we do not see the end to which his benevolent, Permissive Will, is directed — and may not in this life at all. We are left with the assurance by Saint Paul:
It is true
that Jorge has uttered some things good and true — but
because one utters some things that are true
and good, we cannot infer that the one saying them is
himself good ... or true.
An Apposite and Frightening Paradigm
paradigm is no one less than satan, who himself quoted
Scripture in the Temptations of Christ (Saint
Matthew 4.1-11) What he said was true in his unsuccessful
attempts to seduce Christ from redeeming the souls of
men, but because he quoted directly from Holy Scripture
itself in no way mitigates his evil.
Like Satan, Francis can quote Scripture, too …
such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming
themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for
Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light.”
(2 Corinthians 13-14)
2 An intensional definition gives the meaning of a term by specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for when the term should be used by denoting the properties that an object requires in order to be understood as a referent of the term. For example, an intensional definition of the word “bachelor” is an “unmarried man”.
3 atautology is the uttering of the same thing twice in different words.
4“Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.” (Saint James 1.17)
Geoffrey K. Mondello
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“Semen est sanguis Christianorum” — Tertullian
New: the Roman Martyrology can now be downloaded entirely as either a or as a Microsoft Word File
Each day we bring you a calendar, a list really, of the holy Martyrs who had suffered and died for Christ, for His Bride the Church, and for our holy Catholic Faith; men and women for whom — and well they knew — their Profession of Faith would cost them their lives.
They could have repudiated all three (Christ, Church, and Catholic Faith) and kept their lives for a short time longer (even the lapsi only postponed their death — and at so great a cost!)
What would motivate men, women, even children and entire families to willingly undergo the most evil and painfully devised tortures; to suffer death rather than denial?
Why did they not renounce their Catholic Faith when the first flame licked at their feet, after the first eye was plucked out, or after they were “baptized” in mockery by boiling water or molten lead poured over their heads? Why did they not flee to offer incense to the pagan gods since such a ritual concession would be merely perfunctory, having been done, after all, under duress, exacted by the compulsion of the state? What is a little burned incense and a few words uttered without conviction, compared to your own life and the lives of those you love? Surely God knows that you are merely placating the state with empty gestures …
Did they love their wives, husbands, children — their mothers, fathers and friends less than we do? Did they value their own lives less? Were they less sensitive to pain than we are? In a word, what did they possess that we do not?
Nothing. They possessed what we ourselves are given in the Sacrament of Confirmation — but cleaved to it in far greater measure than we do: Faith and faithfulness; fortitude and valor, uncompromising belief in the invincible reality of God, of life eternal in Him for the faithful, of damnation everlasting apart from Him for the unfaithful; of the ephemerality of this passing world and all within it, and lives lived in total accord with that adamant belief.
We are the Martyrs to come! What made them so will make us so. What they suffered we will suffer. What they died for, we will die for. If only we will! For most us, life will be a bloodless martyrdom, a suffering for Christ, for the sake of Christ, for the sake of the Church in a thousand ways outside the arena. The road to Heaven is lined on both sides with Crosses, and upon the Crosses people, people who suffered unknown to the world, but known to God. Catholics living in partibus infidelium, under the scourge of Islam. Loveless marriages. Injustices on all sides. Poverty. Illness. Old age. Dependency. They are the cruciform! Those whose lives became Crosses because they would not flee God, the Church, the call to, the demand for, holiness in the most ordinary things of life made extraordinary through the grace of God. The Martyrology we celebrate each day is just a vignette, a small, immeasurably small, sampling of the martyrdom that has been the lives of countless men and women whom Christ and the Angels know, but whom the world does not know.
“Exemplum enim dedi vobis”, Christ said to His Apostles: “I have given you an example.” And His Martyrs give one to us — and that is why the Martyrs matter.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Note: We suggest that you explore our newly edited and revised “De SS. Martyrum Cruciatibus — The Torments and Tortures of the Christian Martyrs” for an in-depth historical account of the sufferings of the Martyrs.
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Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome