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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason



Francis: the Great Divider

in the “Post-Catholic-Conciliar-church

The Two Faces of Jorge Bergoglio

The Two Faces of Jorge Bergoglio

Will the Pride and Arrogance of “Francis” dare even defy God Himself?


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 obscurity. 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 “decentralize” the 2000-year-old teaching authority of Rome, leaving all matters ecclesiological in the hands of broadly dispersed local “Synods” (a 1965 creation of Vatican II that has gained enormous traction under the pontificate of Francis).         

“Episcopal Conferences” (another creation of Vatican II in 1966), local Ordinaries (bishops), and even in parishes themselves, are free to articulate the Faith as a “praxis” unique to each local parish’s “creative” expression”  — 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 councils” (yet another 1965 creation emerging from Vatican II that deprived the pastor of his authority in the parish in an effort to invest authority in lay parish council. While ostensibly an “advisory” group — often comprised of disaffected Catholics — it often works to undermine the pastoral authority 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?

“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.”


Where is “there” for the atheist? It is a fair, indeed, a necessary question for atheist and believer alike. And how is it different for the atheist from a presumable “here?” 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 that 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).

Ostentatious Humility?

Francis is 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. Every pontiff, after all, surely understands that the office of the papacy is not about “them.” They occupy an exalted “office” — but they themselves are not “exalted” simply because they occupy it — as many did before them and as many will do to come. Yes?  The cynic, then, 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, and the media, are invited to witness and 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” predecessors:

“Blessed Paul 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 of those who boasted of putting Francis 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 “Sankt Gallen Mafia” 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 Bishop 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 to do.

• 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 “Sankt Gallen Club” — was number one on the list? Quid pro quo x 2.

Let us put this into a 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 disgrace! 

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 following:

“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.” [But, he continued,] “I have the humility and ambition to do so,” he said.” 1              

What does this say of his predecessors?  What does this say of Francis? 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 had 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? The hubris that is more than implicit in this remarkable statement is given clearer, bolder relief in the following story we find quite revealing and not a little unsettling:

Bankrupt Benevolence: “I am the pope! I do not need to give reasons!”

This is what Pope Francis unceremoniously told Cardinal Müller of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — who dared to disagree with Francis on issues within Amoris Laetitia — when Francis effectively fired him. Technically what he stated is true. It is true of any corporation or business: one can be called in at the end of the day of twenty years of faithful service and be summarily dismissed “for no reason” — but is rarely exercised because of the odor of autocracy that surrounds it together with the blatant exercise of pitiless power uncommon even in business and industry. Certainly, we found no such crude exercise of power within other pontificates of recent memory.  Human dignity demands reasons for such curt dismissals — and so do human beings. It is callous and stinks of supercilious authority, prepotency, and crude superiority. In other words, earmarks that have characterized the authoritarian papacy of Francis. It is no more than a slap-down: “I am the Pope ... dammit! ... just do as your told, man!”    

So much for the much-vaunted mercy, tolerance, gentility, and goodwill of this deeply confused and even more confusing pope.

According to Lifesite News, “In an interview with the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse, Cardinal Müller revealed details of the meeting in which he learned of the Pope’s refusal to renew his 5-year mandate as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF):

“Pope Francis,” Cardinal Müller said, “communicated his decision” not to renew his term — “within one minute” on the last workday of his five-year term... and did not give any reasons for it.

The same Cardinal Müller found his own peremptory dismissal reminiscent of Pope Francis’s summary and inexplicable dismissal of three extremely worthy priests from his office at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith; priests that Cardinal Müller found indispensable just before Christmas last year. On that occasion, Cardinal Müller politely inquired about their abrupt dismissal as follows:

“Your Holiness, I have received these letters (demanding their dismissal), but I did not do anything because these persons are among the best of my dicastery… what did they do?”

The answer was:     

“And I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave.”

“He got up and stretched out his hand in order to indicate that the audience was at an end.” (if you wish to read more of this dramatic episode, see: Before Dismissal of Cardinal Müller, Pope Asked Five Pointed Questions. Note particularly the following:          

“The pope wants to speak to you ... “Did you tell him I am celebrating Mass?” asked Müller. “Yes,” said the secretary, “but he says he does not mind — he wants to talk to you all the same.” The cardinal went to the sacristy. The pope, in a very bad mood, gave him some orders and a dossier concerning one of his friends, a cardinal.”)


This is the same author of Laudato Si who literally pontificated about “the immense dignity of each person, who is not just something, but someone.” (65) and that “In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures ... have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish. The
German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of being over that of being useful” (69)
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 ... even our enemies.

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 ... even commands?

• Christ: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (St. Matthew 28.19)

• Francis: “Proselytism is solemn nonsense.”

How do we reconcile such completely contradictory exhortations? Have we come to such a state of affairs that Catholics are confronted with choosing between what our Blessed Lord commanded and what Pope Francis disdains as nonsense? This is not simply scandalous ... it verges on — and is a broad and deep current toward — nothing less than heresy: the rejection of what Christ Himself unquestionably taught. There is no other plausible explanation for this contradiction. Such contrariety cannot co-exist in the Church. It is a violent breach of 2000 years of Catholic teaching and doctrine. The heresy of Indifferentism 2 was not repealed by the Second Vatican Council, nor can it ever be, for Christ simply and forcefully stated: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (St. John 14.6)

“Who are we to Judge?”

Is Francis dismantling the Barque of Peter — plank by plank — or simply following the prevailing winds and steering it into the rocks? Cardinal Burke aptly used the analogy of a ship without a rudder in reference to Pope Francis’s apparent lack of reference. Look at the confusion about you and tell us. If the ship is heading toward Lesbos driven by a furious and feckless wind, what are we to do?  Reproach the pilot to avert disaster? But to reproach — however pressing — is to judge, and in in Francis's own words, who are we to do so...?        

Amoris Laetitia — the First Apostolic Exhortation to Sin!

And this ... this is to utter nothing of the horrific scandal and heresy inherent in Francis’s troubled Amoris Laetitia, an Apostolic Exhortation — to sin! Perhaps the first ever: against Christ's own teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the sin of adultery, His unequivocal injunction against divorce, and Saint Paul’s stern admonition against receiving Holy Communion unworthily (1 Corinthians 11.27) — the very Body and Blood of Christ — while in a state of mortal sin (adultery)!

And Francis presumes to abrogate what Christ Himself established?

Two days ago (August 2, 2018) Francis had the audacity to change the Catechism of the Catholic Church, abolishing the more than 2000 year old Church Teaching that the State has the right to impose the death penalty on individuals for certain heinous crimes (even Luther and Calvin agreed with this as do Muslims and many Atheists). The point to consider, however, is the precedent Francis is establishing in no longer preserving and protecting 2000 years of Church teaching — which is his primary duty as the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth — but in fact abolishing it! This is to say nothing of the egregious implication that what the Church has taught from the beginning has been corrupt, and up until  now (that is to say, up until Francis) immoral!

He is the first to have done so.

Does Francis’s defection from Church teaching constitute formal heresy? We cannot answer that, although the odor is distinct. That is the competency of the College of Cardinals which, up until now, has been habitually and remarkably silent and — dare we say — pusillanimous. Courage and careerism seldom coincide — as we have repeatedly witnessed in today’s ... “delicate” ... Episcopacy. As G.K. Chesterton appositely noted, “Only live fish swim against the current.

An Extremely Important Question

This much is at stake: we must ask, perforce, how many more “corrections, “deletions”, and “amendments” to Catholic Teaching found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in violation of the Sacred Deposit of the Faith ... are now open — by Francis’s precedent?

Did not someone speak of the reek of sulfur in the Vatican? How prescient!

Archbishop Tomash Peta who sat on the Synod that produced this document observed that: “Blessed Paul VI in 1972: [stated that] ‘From some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.’ I am convinced that these were prophetical words...”(                   

So are we.

Geoffrey K. Mondello   
Boston Catholic Journal



2 “Indifferentism” is the belief that it does not matter what religion a man professes; he can attain to salvation by any religion. The Church has roundly condemned this notion as a heresy in very strong language, holding it to be a denial of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation). Here, we feature a brief passage from Mirari Vos, by the last great monk-pope, Gregory XVI (August 15, 1832). All emphasis (bold and italics), are ours; paragraph numbers, and reference numbers appear as in the original:        

13. Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism” [16] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,” [17] and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.” [18] Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed: “He who is for the See of Peter is for me.”[19] A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed, Augustine would reply to such a man: “The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?” [20]   
14. This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say. [21] When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly “the bottomless pit” [22] is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws — in other words, a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other. Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.”

— Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos 


Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal

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