Is Francis the Great Divider
in the “Post-Modern” Catholic Church?
The Two Faces of Pope Francis
Much depends upon which side of a Radically Liberal
Agenda you Stand
Francis is a
man of inversions. If you stand on the right side of him you are well-treated
and heard; if you stand on the wrong side of him (as, say, Cardinal Burke)
you are dispatched to the Ultima Thule. But the “right” side of Francis
is on the Left; and the wrong side of Francis is on the Right. For
all his putative benignity, Francis can be ruthless. It is a side of Francis
that receives little attention from the media. He autocratically tolerates
no disagreement and is quick to punish or exile. He is not “the man-made-by-the-media”.
In an irreconcilable juxtaposition he is ostentatiously humble, trumpeting
the humility he tries to equate with himself while failing to exercise that
“humility and gentleness” among his own courtiers. That “an atmosphere of
fear” pervades the halls of the Vatican is no surprise.
His disdain for, and antagonism toward, traditional
Catholics and the those who adhere to the Tridentine Mass is well known.
But there is no such disdain for openly dissident Catholics such as Kasper
and Danneels, both cardinals, who enjoy his favor and to whom he is keen
to listen. Indeed, they are part of the inner circle of his closest advisors.
Unlike his immediate predecessor, Francis
is openly antagonistic and condescending toward those who do not align themselves
with his unquestionably revolutionary — many would say destructive
— liberal agenda that would not only “decentralize” the 2000 year old teaching
authority of Rome, but effectively abdicate the papacy itself ,
leaving all matters ecclesiological in the hands of broadly dispersed Synods
(a 1965 creation of Vatican II), Episcopal Conferences (another creation
of Vatican II in 1966), local Ordinaries (bishops), and even in parishes
themselves, free to articulate the Faith as a “praxis” unique to each local
parish’s “creative” expression of the Faith — which may differ entirely
from a neighboring parish’s creative impulse and expression of the Faith.
The two needn’t be uniform in either teaching or “praxis”. If there is contradiction
in the teaching of each — and, eo ipso no unity among them
— then that is the most genuine expression of the Church for those particular
parishioners, priests, and Parish Council (yet another 1965 creation emerging
from Vatican II that deprived the pastor of his authority in the parish.
While it is ostensibly an “advisory” group — often comprised of disaffected
Catholics — it often works to undermine the unique pastoral responsibility
of the priest. Here you find the feminists, the liberal Catholics, the “progressives”,
the people who really run the Church). That contradiction exists and flies
in the face of reason and logic (specifically the Principle of Non-Contradiction)
is beside the point. After all, according to Francis, we must be open to
“God surprising us”.
Let us put it
bluntly: Francis is not a particularly bright man. This is not to say
that being intelligent, coherent, and articulate is indispensable to being
holy — but it certainly helps in every other aspect, especially as it pertains
to the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.
Understanding what Francis is saying concerning
extremely important issues should not be an exercise in verbal Sudoku,
an effort to make sense of what he is attempting to say — presuming
that he himself “knows” rather than solipsistically intuits what he is saying,
leaving the rest of us to guess.
He is a man of tremendous ambiguity despite
his vaunted simplicity. There is a distinct lack of clarity often couched
in awkward phrases — often neologisms — doubtlessly written for him
by others, and the tone, the phraseology, is one often encountered
in the lexicon of distinctly liberal circles and among “New Age” thinkers.
What are we to make of such statements as:
“If we, each
doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there,
doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that
culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another
doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do
good: We will meet one another there.”
Q: Where is
“there”? And how is it different from “here” if one is talking
with an atheist? Will the atheist no longer be an atheist in that nebulous
“there”? Will the Pope no longer be a Catholic when he reaches “there”?
If “there” is “in the doing of good”, what is the outcome he suggests will
result? That we will find that “we are both doing good and that is good
— and it really does not matter if we believe in Christ or not … as long
as we are doing good? As long as we are being nice to each other we
both will find that Christ is really beside the point and quite
unnecessary. We can trade places and our ultimate destiny will be unaffected
… as long as we “meet each other there”. In Whom we believe or do not believe
is really unimportant (despite what that Person in Whom we believe
or do not believe has said concerning belief in Him in very
clear and unequivocal terms.)
On the other hand, however insipid and
incoherent the statement, it is the logical and inevitable result of an
emerging policy in Francis’s papacy that discourages, even forbids,
any attempt by a Catholic to convert another to Christ
(and through Christ to come to salvation, and ultimately to Heaven (the
best possible will we can have toward another: their ultimate, ontological
and eternal good — for which we were created in the first place — at least
according to authentic Catholic doctrine).
He is also an
accomplished showman. His repudiation of the emblems of his office, his
refusal to live where his predecessors lived, to deliberately be
chauffeured in sub-compacts, to make his own meals — ostensibly to
reveal his simplicity — appears not so much an example to
the faithful for their own edification — as it does a reproach
to his predecessors who chose to accept the historical tradition
accorded their ecclesiastical office. A cynic may say that it is a
carefully and publicly orchestrated slap in the face to his predecessors
— which hardly accords with humility. In fact, the press, the media, are invited to witness and to broadly publicize
this exaggerated “humility”. There is something troubling in this ostentation of “humility”
which immediately invokes Jesus’ parable in Matthew 6.5:
“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.”
If that is not confusing enough, let us
look at another bewildering statement by Francis, invoking one of his “blessed”
VI expressed this eloquently: “We can imagine, then, that each of
our sins, our attempts to turn our back on God, kindles in
him a more intense flame of love, a desire to bring us back to himself
and to his saving plan …”
In light of what precisely that “plan” is,
and “Who” is putatively involved as quite necessary to it, Francis is not
clear, given his rapprochement with the straw atheist). This is a decidedly
queer notion with no clear Scriptural or theological credentials, for we
had been taught (note the past tense) that sin is an offense
to God, an evil so great that it required the very Son of God to die in
expiation for it. Following this logic, then, if I wish to be more
loved by God then I should sin more often … and the graver the sin,
the more intense God’s love, yes?
But that ability to confuse, to render
indistinct, is precisely the sine qua non of the agenda those who
boasted of putting him in office (Cardinal Danneels of the infamous “Vatican
Mafia” who openly declared that Francis was “their man”, that is to say,
the candidate favored by the notorious “St. Gallen Club” who regularly met
for years to undermine Pope Benedict’s election, and ultimately his papacy,
in order to replace him with “their man”. And who was “their man”?
Bergoglio! Surprise! And now,
as Francis, the devolution of the Church has been inaugurated. He
is merely “the Bishop of Rome” as he fondly refers to himself, and concomitantly
diminishes and undermines the universal authority of the papacy
itself). This is to say nothing of:
Danneels cover up of the pedophile
of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, despite the insistence of the bishop’s
own nephew who was sexually victimized by him for 14 years and demanded
that Danneels bring it to the attention of the pope — which he refused
This same Cardinal Danneels
also vigorously attempted to convince King Baudouin of Belgium
to legislate an abortion bill despite the king’s moral reluctance
as a matter of conscience (The king stepped down for 36 hours rather
than associate his name with the bill that was subsequently passed)
His approval of and his lobbying for
same-sex “unions” which he considered, in his own words, and as a Catholic
Cardinal, “a positive development”.
This same Cardinal Danneels
was the number two appointee to the
Synod on the Family! (of all things) — despite being disgraced
… and did we mention that he is retired? Why was
he given this position of such prominence? It is simple: Quid pro
quo: something for something. In other words, Francis’s personal
invitation and appointment of Danneels was a blatant “thank
you!” for Danneels part in having engineered his ascent to the Throne
of Peter (the Holy Ghost, of course, is parenthetical to all this).
Did we mention that the extremely liberal Cardinal Walter Kasper of
Germany — also a member of the same “St. Gallen Club”
— was number one on the list? Quid pro quo x
Let us put this into clearer perspective
that, unfortunately, requires less imagination. Let us assume that a presidential
nominee is elected to office. It is later found that a powerful coterie
of conspirators had done everything legal and illegal to place him in office
to further their own interests (which may in fact coincide with the president’s).
One of the conspirators is found to be deeply involved in criminal activity
of the most loathsome sort and the media, seizing upon it, expose him to
public outrage. However, the statute of limitations required by law expires
before he can be convicted. He then goes on to publicly boast of how instrumental
he was in getting the current president elected, and had, in fact, engineered
it. Soon after the president assumes office, he assembles a group of advisors.
The number one appointee is someone openly disaffected with the Constitution
of the United States and makes every effort to undermine it. We are astounded.
But that was just the jab. The real blow comes when the number two appointee
is the very man who had engaged in unscrupulous and criminal activity —
and who had publicly boasted to the news outlets that he was the kingpin
in getting the president elected. He is not simply a personal, but a public
Would a politician really make so blatant, so egregious, so open a payback
as to place this man in his inner circle of advisors — and as the second
in the position of influencing the president? Would not the president, rather,
distance himself from that figure at all costs as a liability to his own
credibility? Of course he would! Obama even distanced himself from his “friend”
and “pastor” the “reverend” Jeremiah Wright after preaching “God damn America”
… three times in one homily … among many other incendiary remarks? It was
political poison to the president.
But it is not a theological and moral outrage that Francis appoints Danneels
and Kasper to his own inner circle? It is not just theology and morality
— it is stupidity … or worse yet, utter arrogance: “If I can get away with
this, I can get away with anything.” And he has. And, to the detriment of
the Church, likely will continue to.
Very Proud of His Humility ... an Oxymoron
Of course this assessment goes against the
prevailing narrative of a man “renowned for his humility” in the secular
press. Indeed, he completely agrees with and personally endorses this
narrative. In discussing the dismal results of Vatican II we find the
“He said the Second
Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the church into the
modern world, had promised such an opening to people of other faiths and
non-believers, but that the church hadn't made progress since then.
“I have the humility
and ambition to do so,” he said.” 1
What does this say of his predecessors?
That all of them lacked the requisite personal attributes
(humility and ambition) to fulfill the revolutionary vision of Vatican
II— while Francis unflinchingly asserts that he possesses
what they lacked — and flatly tells us so. Because he
possesses the … unique … combination of (self-acclaimed) humility and
ambition lacking in his predecessors, he can achieve what
they failed to. Even the most casual Catholic recognizes an
inherent conflict in this perplexing and troubling statement.
Self-ascribed humility strikes us the wrong way —
think of Christ’s parable of the Pharisee and the Publican praying
before God), especially when it is coupled with ambition.
Are self-acclaimed humility and ambition really exemplary
or even complementary virtues in any remotely Catholic discourse?
Why do we even bring this up? Is it character-assassination? Malice?
No. It is simply relevant. Let us be clear. We wish Pope Francis every
good and no evil. This is the correct understanding of loving anyone. We
love Pope Francis as Christ commands us to love everyone.
Is this assessment lacking in charity?
I think not. Saint Paul rebuked Saint Peter himself
“when [he] saw that they walked
not uprightly unto the truth of the Gospel” but that Peter,
"fearing them who were of the
circumcision" had acquiesced to what may be considered the first
attempt at "ecumenism" (Gal 2.11-14). Did Saint Paul not love Saint Peter?
And because he loved him — and because he loved Christ more
— he reproached him.
Rarely, in the history
of the Church, has a Catholic had to choose with whom to side: Christ or
the pope? To side with the pope was to side with Christ! This is
no longer so clear, and it is puzzling to many faithful Catholics when
Francis advocates that which Christ opposes, or opposes that which
Christ mandates. How is a Catholic to accept two contrary counsels ...