John Paul IV? Or Leonardo's Dream?
Well, that worked out pretty well, didn't it? Certainly for the éminence grise of Modernism. "It was a very happy surprise. I'm extremely delighted," chortled wizened heretic Hans Kung after the white smoke cleared and Cardinal Bergoglio morphed into Pope Francis.
Leonardo Boff, too, was chuffed. One of the fathers of liberation theology, silenced by Rome in 1985 and now an "eco-theologian," Len saw Green shoots. "Francis isn't a name," he gushed, "it's a plan for a Church that is poor, simple, gospel-centred, and devoid of all power... an ecological Church [that recites] the breviary under the trees with the birds." (Was that Francis of Disney, or Assisi? I'm confused.)
The Toronto Star captured the liberal buzz. "The election of a social activist from the Americas has filled Catholic reformers with hope that a church in crisis will finally be renewed," ran its breathless sub-head. Running from one CINO to another, it was all heightened hope and expectation. One Canadian vacationing in Rome “[would] like to see a 'modernizing pope' who at the least allows women to become priests. 'It would be a sign that the Church is moving in the direction of including everyone and not just whitish males,' said halfwit Colleen, 38."
OK, OK. Before the Star hits me with a writ, I confess the "halfwit" bit is my interpolation: just by way of highlighting the verbal flood of half-thoughts the media garnered from a veritable Tsunami of Twits: whether professional ones like Kung and Boff, or workaday ones like Colleen. Take the witless contribution of a sixty-year-old Swede. Despite 20 centuries of civilising the world in the process of planting Catholicism and its untold good works in every nation on earth, and now accounting for 20% of the planet's population (and three-quarters of Latin America's), Alf felt that the election of a non-Italian pontiff finally "makes it possible for the Church to reach out to other parts of the world. He can show that the Roman Catholic Church is important everywhere." .... Somewhere in eternity, John Paul II surely wept ... over his 1,000,000 unclaimed Air Miles!
Speaking of the late Polish pontiff, apart from "reaching out to other parts of the world" in a tireless, not to say manic manner that entirely escaped Alf's attention, he also spent the best part of three decades placating these very liberals — praying with pagans, feminising sanctuaries, improvising liturgies, grooving with the kids, all the while avoiding confrontation and righteous counter-revolution. Yet despite his endless appeasement, complicity and collegial capitulations, I don't recall Hans, Len, Colleen, Alf & Co. ever giving him the dissident thumbs up?
Nor did Benedict XVI's ecumenical correctness and equal disdain for the Charitable Anathema (embodied in his calling old pal Kung to Castelgandolfo for chit-chat and cuppuchinos in lieu of excommunication), earn anything but liberal abuse — and absurd epithets like "God's Rottweiler" (if only!).
So why the excitement and expectation? What do the heretics and CINOs think Jorge Bergoglio has to offer that Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger did not hand them on a platter?
We'll find out soon enough, no doubt. But we know that Modernists are insatiable wreckers who will never be satisfied until dogmatic Catholicism and all its organically-associated traditions are reduced to rubble. And rightly or wrongly, on the evening of 13 March they sensed a kindred spirit who would not merely concede further ground to them, but one who would sell the family jewels and auction off the farm: their very own Pope Kiril.
I certainly did. A reflexive recollection shared between collective palpitations (at the thought of a Jesuit taking the reins) with not a few others. Even before the media could crank up its 'humble Argentinian prelate who cooked his own meals in a simple apartment and rode a bus to work' mantra, the refusal of Francis to don correct papal vestments for his appearance on the balcony had set "minimalist"/"social gospel" antennae buzzing. But simultaneously, as I later discovered, the famous closing scene of The Shoes of the Fisherman sprang to many minds. For standing there in his white cassock — devoid of stole (symbol of papal authority), pectoral cross, and mozetta (the red cape worn over the cassock (1) — Pope Francis seemed to embody the sell-the-palace-and-live-in-a-shed pontiff of the 1968 blockbuster movie; Pope Kiril, who "humbly" divests the Church of her patrimony ... out of "charity."
Based on the 1963 best-seller by Australian novelist Morris West, my own childhood memory of the film immediately matched the new pope's hefty frame and persona with the imposing figure of Anthony Quinn, who portrayed Kiril Lakota as a soft-spoken and humble Ukrainian priest. Released by the Soviets after nearly 20 years in a Siberian prison camp (so they would have a friend in the papal court should China rise against them), Lakota is soon made a cardinal and then elected pope, after impressing fellow cardinals with his (read: Morris West's) beguiling social gospel. "Life is a gift of God," he declares. "We should manufacture the authentic Christian revolution... Work for all... Bread for all... Dignity for all men..."
Uncomfortable in his new role, Pope Kiril goes incognito through the back streets of Rome. Naturally, he provides ecumenical (in lieu of baptismal Catholic) comfort to a dying Jew, performing Hebraic prayers he learned from Jewish dissidents at the Communist labour camp. In similar vein, Francis immediately set about doing his own thing as if still back in Buenos Aires (making his own transport arrangements, paying his own bills, impromptu sorties, etc.), while cocking a snoop at papal authority and established protocols (like his studied use of "bishop of Rome" instead of "pope," with all its compromising ecumenical/collegial connotations, or asking to be blessed). He further enhanced his man-of-the-people image by deciding to keep his conclave suite in the guesthouse of St. Martha and live "in community" with the residents, instead of occupying the Apostolic Palace nearby.
On 20 March the not-so "humble" dumbing down continued in the Clementine Hall where Francis received representatives of various Christian and non-Christian religions seated in an armchair, in preference to the throne customarily used by the Vicar of Christ the King. Lauded as "informal" and "spontaneous," this cute and cosy arrangement is actually inappropriate and damaging. Why? Because before being a private person the Vicar of Christ is a public person. As we've said elsewhere, before being a man, he is an institution: before being the Pope, he is the Papacy in which the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is embodied, centred and protected by the exercise of his supreme doctrinal and disciplinary jurisdiction. This divine and human reality is hardly signalled by receiving formal religious and diplomatic delegations like a laid-back papal Val Doonican (sans cardigan... for now).
A CINO renowned for his lifelong love-hate relationship with the Church, Morris West dropped those kinds of (unwittingly comic) liberal clichés into The Shoes of the Fisherman, including a Teilhardian figure under investigation by reactionary Rome for peddling heretical pap about "the future union of the world with the cosmic Christ." This young Jesuit dissident befriends the 'good' Cardinal Lakota, who is "challenged" by the priest's ideas yet never mentions the "soul" during their discussions. For good measure, the 'bad' cardinals drive the sickly priest to an early grave, to Lakota's disgust. But all the liberal propaganda aside, the film boasts a stellar cast, powerful performances and a spectacular climax.
Briefly, the Chinese are feuding with Russia and cannot feed their people due to US trade restrictions. A world war is on the cards if food is not forthcoming. This is the backdrop to the dramatic/laughable papal gesture that follows: that feeding the Chinese will avert war. Pope Kiril stands on the balcony before the papal throne, wearing an embroidered cape, white gloves and papal tiara (modelled on the one Paul VI discarded). Surrounded by cardinals and entourage, he takes off his crown and holds it as he looks out over the massive crowd that fills St Peter’s Square:
"Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he begins, “whose Vicar I am, was crowned with thorns. I stand before you bare-headed because I am your servant.
[He looks to hand the crown to a priest assistant on his left, who doesn’t quite know what to do, then turns and offers it to one on his right, who takes it from him.]
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not charity, then I am become but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. If I have all faith can move mountains but have not charity, I am nothing.
[Close up of Quinn’s face as he speaks slowly in accented English.] “We are in a time of crisis. I cannot change the world, I cannot change what history has already written. I can only change myself. And begin with unsure hands to write a new chapter.
“I am the custodian of the wealth of the Church. I pledge it now, all our money, all our holdings in land, buildings and great works of art, for the relief of our hungry brothers.
[Very low murmur among the sea of faithful before him as the camera pans down the piazza. Close up of motionless Swiss Guards. Back to close up of Quinn's face.]
“And if to honour this pledge, the Church must strip itself down to poverty, so be it. I will not alter this pledge. [Then quietly but emphatically] I will not reduce it. [Close up of an inscrutable Chinese official watching on a big screen, obviously impressed] And now, I beg the great of the world, and the small of the world, to share out their abundance with those who have nothing."
[Ripple of applause builds to great applause and cheers fill the piazza. Pope Kiril looks stunned at the response. Tears fill Kiril’s eyes as the roar of approval continues and the chant of “Vive Papa” resounds across the square. Cut to panoramic shots of packed piazza from Paul VI 's coronation, and close-ups of “humbled” Anthony Quinn, to sound of trumpets, horns etc. as the film ends on triumphant note.]
The stuff of social gospel dreams, Leonardo Boff probably has this scene playing 24/7 on his recycled 80" flat screen. It precisely conveys his "Church devoid of all power"; depicting the sort of papacy he and his eco-ilk envision being played out under Francis: a pope further paring down the already minimal trappings of the papal office in the name of "simplicity," "poverty," "charity," "humility," and "social justice."
Quite what is to be gained by a Church and papacy standing impoverished, weak and defenceless before the merciless powers — who would simply pocket the Catholic spoils before continuing on their exploitative way unimpeded by their papal bête noir —is never addressed. But ideologues do not reason or justify. They wreck. There is no higher purpose. Reducing Holy Mother Church to destitution, in much the same way they've sacked our cathedrals and parish churches, satisfies their ideological urge. Period. And when, as now, Rome is mired in one of its decadent-corrupt-remote phases, they garner easy support by hypocritically decrying lost Vatican virtues which they themselves can hardly spell, and the baying uncatechised mob neither comprehend nor practice.
However, while Pope Francis is clearly an "individual" who wants to be a "regular guy" — a People's Pope running a DIY papacy — his take on liberation theology is non-ideological; i.e., more John Paul II's "preferential option for the poor."
One might naturally assume that ideology drives a Latin American Jesuit who longs for "a Church that is poor and for the poor!"; who insisted on moving priests into the slums of Buenos Aires; who exhorted his clergy to "rent a garage" and "find some willing layman" to work with the poor and "do a little catechesis and even give Communion if they ask him" [the layman]; and who has spoken fuzzily of "coming out from the fenced garden of one’s own convictions" and "overthrowing all your functionalist solutions, your consolidated plans and pastoral systems."
Coming from a keen student of the Nouvelle Théologie, this scorched-earth rhetoric sounds familiar. It recalls Cardinal Ratzinger's notorious declaration that von Balthasar's call for a "demolition of the [Catholic] bastions" is "a long-overdue task" (a view specifically condemnedby Pius VIII (2)). Yet while not vigorously denouncing liberation theology, Bergoglio at least viewed the Creed and corporal works of mercy in a supernatural rather than naturalistic context: as the Faith proclaimed and virtue in action, rather than a political manifesto to incite an impoverished proletariat.
And so the likelihood of Francis throwing the Catholic baby out with the filthy Modernist bathwater in a socialistic sell off is, I believe, about as remote as the prospect of the real life "Kiril," Ukrainian Bishop Yosyp Slipyi, having appeased the Communists. (Arrested and sent to Siberia by the Soviets, Slipyi was released under Khrushchev, with help from John Kennedy, and arrived in Rome in time for Vatican II. He became a thorn in the side of the treacherous Curia by living longer than expected, to a ripe old age.)
Nonetheless, it is a measure of the proletarian "vibe" radiated by Francis that not just marginalised dreamers like Boff but the entrenched Liberal Ecclesial Establishment are counting on life imitating this stylish Hollywood kitsch. Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung [FAZ] — their New York Times equivalent — revelled in every sign of traditional rollback and resurgent horizontalism:
Overnight the so-called "people’s altar,“ erected by John Paul II but removed by Benedict XVI, reappeared (in the Sistine chapel)… The courtly splendour and ceremonial pomp, which under Pope Benedict had spread like dry rot throughout the timber frame of the Vatican, has vanished. So do many people see it.
Not so much "people" as disgraced "creatures" like Cardinal Mahony. Having thus far dodged jail for protecting clerical predators, he spoke for all the liberal gloaters in his puerile Tweets from Rome:
SIMPLE is IN, extravagant is out!! Pope Francis is doing more for proclaiming Jesus Christ than thousands of ‘professionals’–praise God!
So long, Papal ermine and fancy lace! Welcome, simple cassock, and hopefully, ordinary black shoes! St. Francis must be overjoyed!!
Mass with Pope Francis: moving from HIGH Church to LOW and humble Church! What a blessing that we are encountering Jesus without trappings!
The simmering resentment exploded in a collective sigh of hateful relief with each apparent "rebuke" of Benedict's reign. Like their liberalised homosexual brethren, the Modernists feign oppression while dictating terms; invoking victimhood as they attack. Thus, having ruled the egalitarian roost for almost half a century, a brief period of quasi-restoration that barely touched their local fiefdoms was presented as emancipation from long enslavement to God-centred sacrifice, as if Vatican II never happened.
'Free at last! Free at last! Thank the Spirit in the Sky, we are free at last!' they cried as one with eco-visionary Leonardo.
"Don't you feel the new energy in the Church? We will experience a new Pentecost as the early Christians," Tweeted the repulsive Mahony. "Traditionalists are the new orphans of Rome," crowed the FAZ. "That’s why they are opposed to Francis."
Well, they were certainly quick to issue warnings about Archbishop Bergoglio. But since Francis is not quite the pontiff of euphoric liberal dreams, what should we make of him? Are Traditionalists right to be wary?
John Paul IV
The simple answer — albeit hedged with all the charitable/sensible qualifiers set forth by Brother André in his ensuing piece — is an emphatic yes: insofar as Francis effortlessly assumes the "John Paul" persona.
As stated last month, the choice of pope was irrelevant because every candidate was schooled in the fabricated renewal that has hollowed out the Faith. Along with all his brethren, Cardinal Bergoglio would proudly proclaim, as did the "gay Mass"-sanctioning "conservative" Cardinal Pell: "I am a loyal son of the Second Vatican Council." And that remains the obstinate nub of the problem. Two conclaves ago, in "Making John Paul III" (Nov. 2003), I explained how
The progressive Conciliar spirit that unites [the Sacred College] — and thus the conclave factions they represent — is greater than the degree of liberalism that separates them.
... [W]e must presume [therefore] that the Conciliar milieu of liberalism and quasi-liberalism-masquerading-as-conservatism that has corrupted Keith O’Brien and contaminated George Pell has already fashioned the next pontiff. Thesis + antithesis = John Paul III. Habemus (Hegelian) papam!
Eighteen months later Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope to the delight of many Traditionalists. They argued that Benedict XVI was not "John Paul III" because his liturgical sensibilities and downplaying of papal "celebrity" clearly set him apart from John Paul II. But the essential continuity was far deeper than mere personality and liturgical praxis.
As we have just noted, Cardinal Ratzinger publicly endorsed Hans Urs von Balthasar's call for a "razing of the bastions" (i.e. foundations) of the Church. Textbook Nouvelle Théologie, this revolutionary attitude was the essence of Benedict XVI's impossible "hermeneutic of hammering" (Modernist square pegs into the Magisterial round whole). It manifested itself in regular contradictions and capitulations (e.g. his August 2010 blessing of thousands of "altar girls" at a WYD-style free-for-all in Vatican Square), pastoral ambiguities (e.g. condom confusion) and Assisi III among other ecumenical scandals. Thus, he held his predecessor's inherently inconsistent neo-Modernist line. After all, he knew no other. Ditto Francis.
A hapless product of his ecclesiastical times, Francis was ordained in 1969 and studied the New Theology in Germany. Effectively a Marxist method, this Hegelian anti-theology encourages tension between "conservative" (orthodox) and "liberal" (heterodox) viewpoints to create a new "synthesis" (development). Predictably, therefore, Francis shares the liberal-conservative outlook of his two predecessors. Hence the dissident National Catholic Reporter's immediate hailing of "Bergoglio's appeal [as] someone who personally straddles the divide between ... liberals and conservatives in the church [sic]."
Far from something to be admired, however, this impossible straddling of truth has engendered a new caste of equivocating via-media vicars in our midst. We should briefly consider the source of this fifth column of ecumenically-castrated cardinals, bishops and priests because extracts of Cardinal Bergoglio's talks and interviews, in which he enthusiastically quotes neo-Modernist luminaries like de Lubac and Father Luis Guissani of Communion and Liberation, reveal one more post-conciliar peddler of "vital immanence"; the syncretistic fuel of the ecumenical movement.
Fiercely condemned in Pascendi, St. Pius X describes vital immanence as a fuzzy "movement of the heart" which of itself, without need of the supernatural virtues of Faith, excites "the religious sense" that supposedly unites man to God. Immanentism was woven through the "phenomenological"/"relational" works of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger, ever dressed up by appeals to the divine, mystery, mercy and love. Yet Pius X said this pseudo-theological impulse was pure "folly" and led to faith as a mere sentiment. (Hence our Emoting Church of syrupy sermons, formless liturgies, experiential catechesis and pastoral fudge.)
It also leads to self-revelation. "Modernists find in this [inner] sense [or consciousness] not only faith, but in and with faith, as they understand it, they affirm that there is also to be found revelation. For, indeed, what more is needed to constitute a revelation?" And St. Pius immediately adds the following logical progression:
Hence, Venerable Brethren, springs that ridiculous proposition of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural. Hence it is that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous. Hence the law, according to which religious consciousness is given as the universal rule, to be put on an equal footing with revelation, and to which all must submit, even the supreme authority of the Church, whether in its teaching capacity, or in that of legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or discipline
This passage speaks directly to the Assisi Franchise: the interfaith apotheosis that cements the John Paul Franchise like no other. Formed by the false precepts condemned by the Pope Saint, neo-Modernists who have never read Pascendi neither heed earlier pontifical warnings against shared prayer and worship with heretics, schismatics and pagans, nor comprehend the clear Catholic case against "dialogue" that eschews "conversion" in favour of buttering up adherents of false religions. Consequently, without the proper Catholic understanding of faith and truth expounded by St. Pius, we find those familiar Modernist hallmarks of contradiction and betrayal at every turn.
Decades of immersion in the ecumenical project having shorn him of whatever little Catholic conviction and commonsense he once possessed, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor for one has concluded that only the promotion of "hatred and violence" demarcates a "false" religion from "religion of the true sort [that] points us towards healing and wholeness, towards whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious" [The House, 14/11/05]. Contrariwise, on 20 March, having just announced to the vast array of non-Catholics and non-Christians present in the Clementine Hall his "firm will to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue," Pope Francis assured devotees of the Koran, a work that evokes Murphy O'Connor's definition of false religion on every other violent page, that Muslims "adore the one, living, and merciful God"!
All such incoherence is simply "vital immanence" played out to its false ecumenical ends by clerics lacking the traditional mental structure possessed by the saintly author of Pascendi. Put another way: Pope Francis not only missed an opportunity to open a window on the mystery of the Holy Trinity for all present, he chose instead to falsely equate the Islamic god closed in on himself with our Triune God of eternal generation because of "dust in the eyes": a hierarchical affliction the Abbot of Le Barroux once put down to "a badly led interreligious dialogue" that has led to an "affective and intellectual dhimmitude" before rampant Islam.
Unlike pre-conciliar popes but precisely like the recent crew, that ecumenical "dust" surely clouds the Catholic vision of our new pontiff. He had no sooner asked the election-night crowd for its blessing, than a photo emerged of a kneeling Cardinal Bergoglio being blessed at a 2006 jamboree by the neo-Modernist Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa and Protestant televangelists; a disturbing image some tried to explain away, yet which reflects the real ecumania for which he was renowned. Among much else he celebrated many Jewish festivals in the local Syngagogue, even donning a yarmulke, and co-authored a problematic book of interfaith dialogue with a close Jewish friend; an arch-liberal, openly pro-"gay" rabbi who is disowned by local Orthodox Jews, even while being formally/publicly honoured by Bergoglio.
We could go on. But a laundry list of his scandals is hardly necessary. They exist. Though not in a vacuum. They manifest the erroneous theology behind the corrosion of Catholic dogma; not least "no salvation outside the Church," so deeply compromised by John Pauls II and III at Assisis I, II and III. In full agreement with Michael O'Halloran's unflattering assessment of these papal ecumenists in "Continuity or Contradiction: Should Catholics 'Respect' False Religions," (CO, Feb. 2013), a Dominican scholar offered the present writer a possible explanation for this apparent hermeneutic of discontinuity with the papal past:
Probably if one were to say to the popes: "Do you really think we should respect the proposition 'God has no Son', or do you mean, when you speak of respecting Islam, that we are to respect man's native capacity for religion of which Islam is a striking example?", they would choose the latter alternative, which would be doctrinally unproblematic. It may be that they have never asked themselves the question.
I think the problem really comes from the tendency to think about religion inasmuch as it reveals something about man rather than inasmuch as it leads to, or fails to lead to God, coupled with the fact that John Paul II, at any rate, seems to have been a believer in some form of "anonymous Christianity."
Apart from flagging the urgent need for Francis to convoke a Synod on Pascendi, to fill the Catholic lacuna in hierarchical heads, this reflection suggests two hoary chestnuts at the heart of the ecumenical about-face: false charity (a major contributor to all our woes), and naturalism (in the form of man-centred minds fanning the ecumenical spark of "vital immanence").
Perilous siren call
Why single out this particular deficiency in the new papal makeup? Because in tandem with his equally predictable and portentous John Paul II liturgical impressions (see his 2011 "Conga Liturgy" on YouTube!) the ecumenical obsession poses a mortal danger to the Faith. Despite the unearthly disorientation of its earthly Helmsman, we must resist the ecumenical siren call that has wooed the Barque of Peter from its safe harbour of Tradition into toxic Liberal waters which corrode Catholic faith and life. Consider how the worldly powers immediately re-sounded this perilous call via their media flagship, TIME magazine, which seized the ecumenical high ground under the heading, Does Pope Francis’ Outreach to Non-Catholics Signal Deeper Reform?
At a meeting on Friday, March 22, with foreign diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the 76-year-old Argentine, ... made it clear that an ecumenical revival is high on his agenda. ... — adding surprisingly but emphatically, “I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.”
[...] One shouldn’t underestimate how uncommon that shift in rhetoric and gesture is for the Catholic Church.... Every religion has adherents who think their faith is God’s only true WiFi network. And that impulse can turn intolerantly violent, as the past couple decades have all too often shown us. Certainly no one is accusing the Catholic Church of returning to its Inquisition past. But one of its more troubling tics is an attitude of theological superiority and exclusivity toward other religions, including fellow Christian denominations. And it can be as irksome to people in Miami as it is in Mecca.
[...] in terms of interfaith efforts, Francis could emulate if not surpass John [XXIII]. ... Francis was an interfaith pioneer back in Buenos Aires. ... Francis’ well publicized empathy for the poor had most likely led him and his ministry to a deeper understanding... That considering other peaceful and charitable faiths to be as valid as their own isn’t some spiritually milquetoast surrender to relativism — [but] precisely what a peaceful and charitable faith demands.
At the same time, reform-minded Catholics hope that better interfaith ties will prod their church to broaden its own outlook — to acknowledge that letting doctrine evolve, for example, through humane changes like recognizing divorce doesn’t make Catholicism itself any less valid. That might not happen during Francis’ Papacy. But by reaching his hand out to other faiths, he may well be sowing seeds of reform to be reaped by the next Pope.
Insufferably smug, the article encapsulated the media-enforced demonisation of Catholic claims to absolute truth; presented as "troubling tics" of "superiority", "exclusivity" and rigidity that feed intolerance and violence. The idea is to pressure the Church into abandoning its "intolerable" claims in order to assist mankind to its "inevitable" end: that godless globalism ("synarchy") forewarned by St. Pius X. As underlined in our February number, complicit Churchmen are now marching in ecumenical lockstep toward that syncretic abyss. Moreover, as Pascendi explains, with the New Theology in the ascendancy syncretic convergence is indeed inevitable because its internal logic dictates that "every religion... must be considered as both natural and supernatural."
This is why the new pontiff's resolve to stay "on (ecumenical) message" has delighted Judeo-Masonry. "The spirit of Vatican II will prevail," said prominent New York rabbi Arthur Schneier.
"[T]he track has been laid … [and] will be continued and maybe even advanced." "With Pope Francis," declared the Italian Lodge on 14 March, "nothing will be as it was before. It is a clear choice of fraternity for a Church of dialogue, which is not contaminated by the logic and temptations of temporal power." Through vehicles like TIME, the powers will variously portray Francis as an estimable Pope of the Poor and "a hardliner on most other church doctrines like opposition to birth control, women priests and gay marriage." But this is fodder for the masses. As their initial reaction signalled, of primary interest to powerbroking globalists is an ecumenical project that continues to sap Catholic conviction. Another Francis "incident" testified to this enfeeblement.
On 16 March, during an audience with journalists, Francis declined to impart his Apostolic Blessing in the usual way. "Not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe," he said. "I respect the conscience of each one of you, knowing that each one of you is a child of God. May God bless you." As the editor of Inside the Vatican reported: "he made no exterior gesture at all. He did not lift his hand, he did not move it in the form of a blessing, and he did not speak 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit' out loud."
A prelude to his later undermining of the Trinity before the Muslims, this politically correct attitude-cum-dhimmitude screams false ecumenism, false humility and false charity. In the nostrils of a Catholic it is redolent of that lukewarmness despised by God [Rev. 3:16], and the Religious Liberty mindset that exalts conscience while deriding an "ecumenism of return" (to Rome) as demeaning and passé. And yet the Holy Father had just counselled the journalists on the need to communicate reality! "It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness." So why deny souls the public blessing of the Holy Trinity, the very embodiment of that "triad"?
As ever, our response to such clerical compromise is unadulterated Catholic truth and tradition. For starters, Enrico Maria Radaelli's Trinitarian corrective herein. To be followed in the near future by a series of extracts from a powerful, papally-endorsed treatise on the Sign of the Cross. After all, even the first pope needed a refresher before he grasped the full import of that Holy Sign by which he suffered and died.
Hope and Grace
In sum: until a new, unapologetically Catholic generation abandons the neo-Modernist New Theology that underpinned the Council and spawned the "John Pauls," the destructive Cult of Novelty, epitomised by the ecumenical project, will power on. Even as he finally admitted that the post-conciliar collapse is not the result of false interpretation but attributable to the Council documents themselves, arch-ecumenist Cardinal Kasper crowed that Francis "has inaugurated a new phase" of Vatican II! (L'Osservatore Romano, 12/4/13) Lest we ever forget the devastating magnitude of the 'first phase', Michael O'Halloran provides a summary-reminder. Be prepared for more of the same.
Still, the grace of office can inspire dramatic papal turnarounds and providential contributions. It can even ameliorate neo-Modernist agendas. For all his sins, John Paul II is rightly hailed as the indefatigable Pope of Life. Likewise, Benedict XVI, the unrepentant Vatican II "peritus," earned our eternal gratitude for restoring dignity to papal liturgies and gifting us Summorum Pontificum. For his part, Francis has a deep Marian devotion already made manifest in his request for the Portuguese hierarchy to consecrate his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima. Together with his several references to the malign influence of the Devil, it is a heartening sign.
Of course grand words and gestures amount to nothing if they do not lead to action.And the shabby condition of his old archdiocese suggests that Francis is unlikely to take on his small Curia, much less an entire Western hierarchy averse to consecrating RUSSIA to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the supernatural solution to otherwise insurmountable crises in Church and State). Nonetheless, we must nurture his promising Portuguese request with persistent prayer. For amid the present chaos, God may well use the very characteristics that incline Francis to damaging novelties to perform momentous papal acts. Thrilled by his election, one of his (pitifully few) seminarians outlined these useful traits, describing Francis as "a simple, direct person" someone who "doesn’t worry if people think good or ill of him." These point in turn to the most useful characteristic of all:
In the first place, the interview [about entering the seminary] was scheduled by his secretary, who told me: "Give me your cell phone number to coordinate the day and the time, but it might be that the cardinal calls you directly without letting me know.” Indeed, the next day my telephone rang and it was Cardinal Bergoglio. Apparently his secretary found out after he spoke with me. This is a characteristic of his personality: he governs many things directly, without intermediaries, and this surely gives him much freedom of action. In many cases, this also makes him an unpredictable person.
An unpredictable person in a predictable papal mould, Francis/John Paul IV could take us to the depths... but just as surely, with a shot of grace, to the heights!
So "watch and pray." And buckle up!
(1) "Remember, a mozzetta, in itself, is nothing, Popes don’t have to wear a mozzetta all the time," explained Fr John Zuhlsdorf on 19 March. "There are, however, occasions in which such trappings and signs of office, solemn and traditional, have their proper place. They send signals. The non-use of these symbols also sends signals. People who say that these things are not important, or are bad, or that they should be eliminated are just plain wrong. That is a naive, shallow, approach to who we are. Catholics are not 'either/or' when it comes to the dynamic interplay of the humble and the lofty. We are 'both/and', in proper measure, time and place."
(2) "'Truly they have conspired against the Lord and against His Christ.' Truly the impious have said: 'Raze it, raze it down to its foundations'." - Traditi Humilitate Nostrae, 24 May, 1829.