Sunday, January 26, 2014


A Further Perspective

‘Fantasy’ Francis?

He is real enough.

Okay, a disclaimer. I recognize that Pope Francis is a progressive when it comes to pastoral sensitives, reforms in the governance of the Church, especially the Curia's much needed reform, and pastoral policies concerning ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with non-believers and secular interests. (I would not call him a liberal, because that is a political term).

Yet, we know that Pope Francis is a believing Catholic (I won't use the political term conservative or the loaded term traditionalist) when it comes to the Magisterium, the Deposit of Faith (found in the CCC) the authority of bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, and the dogmas and doctrines of the Church to include morality, the sacraments and the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints, including the fallen Archangel and his minions, Lucifer and the demons.

He has reiterated that women cannot be called to Holy Orders because of the infallible teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church concerning the sacramental nature of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which requires by Tradition and dogma that only men be ordained. He teaches that a woman's place is in the home being a good wife and mother while children are being formed into good practicing Christians. This does not exclude women taking on other important roles in society and the Church, after much prayer and reflection, as long as the primary vocation of a woman who is married is to be a good wife and mother. 

The Holy Father is not about to change the Church's teaching on chastity as it concerns heterosexuals or homosexuals as sex outside of marriage goes against Scripture and Tradition and unnatural sex of any kind of any gender and of any orientation goes against natural law thus making these acts illicit and immoral and when turned into an agenda to overthrow traditional Church teaching on morality it becomes an ideology of the Evil One. Marriage will remain as a sacrament and institution for one man and one woman and for a life time despite any pastoral overtures to those in irregular situations. 

Oh and yes, Pope Francis is not opposed to celebrating Mass ad orientem, either in facing the congregation with the pre-Vatican II set-up for the altar or facing toward the wall as he has done in St. Peter's and now in the most explicit way possible and in continuity with Pope Benedict in the Sistine Chapel for the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord.  

We can say Pope Francis is a traditionalist, in the classic meaning of the word, when it comes to popular piety or what he refers to as "popular spirituality" of the lowly, the rank and file Catholics of the world, especially in his beloved South American Continent. He sees in popular piety the inculturation the Church needs. This was very profound in the pre-Vatican II Church, which he acknowledges in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, that was called into question and denigrated in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II, but with a healthy recovery in the years since, especially under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

A few years back, maybe two or three only, John Allen, who is wise enough to know that his talents were being wasted at the National Chismatic Reporter (NCR), so he quit and has moved on to a slightly higher notch at the secular Boston Globe or Glob, depending on your point of view, stated that the Vatican was quickly becoming irrelevant due to the sex abuse scandals, the internal Vatican scandals and the horrible banking scandals. It had lost its clout in the world of diplomacy which had always been its strong suit under previous pontificates.

What a difference 10 months makes. The Vatican is once again regaining lost ground as it concerns diplomacy and was a major player in preventing President Barack Obama from intervening in a war-hawk fashion in Syria. It appears the Vatican is also playing a significant role in pursuing true peace in Syria. This is the classic role of the Vatican as a City-State and Pope Francis is single-handedly responsible for this quick recovery!

But I digress. The point of this post is to bitterly complain about how the Catholic and secular press report on the Church and her pope as though the pope and the Church are some kind of human, political party with special interests when in fact she is a supernatural organization, the Mystical Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ, with Christ as her head and we as His Body. The Church is the People of God imbued with the Holy Spirit and in an indelible way.

And despite the strengths and weaknesses of her members,popes, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, the vices, sins and immoral acts clergy and laity commit, Jesus Christ has said the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church!

I use Yahoo as my internet search engine. Currently there are no less than 4 stories on the pope or the Catholic Church on their home page and usually the stories are from either AP or Reuters. But the reporting is terribly political and portrays Pope Francis as a secular political leader who is going to change the Church by changing doctrine rather than pastoral direction.

The secular presses is deluded into thinking that Pope Francis will change our moral teachings on sexuality and gender identity when he says "who am I to judge" a gay person's salvation if that person earnestly seeks God and recognizes his sin and seeks God's mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance through the repentance of sin.

The secular press thinks that when Pope Francis states that some in the Church (and he really means the secular press) are obsessed with contraception, abortion and sex, that he will change the Church and make her unfaithful to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who reveals through Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law the truths of God.

And they actually believe that when he says the Church should expand the role of women that this means they will one day be ordained deacons, priests and bishops. They do not realize the absurdity of such claims in light of what Pope Francis and other popes have said in the areas of faith and morals to which all popes must be faithful themselves. They have no authority to change doctrine or dogma or natural law, no authority whatsoever. Popes are limited in what they can do!

With the above said, read in the SPECTATOR BY PRESSING HERE, an article by George Neumayr who thinks Pope Francis is the most liberal pope ever. He is reporting his findings as a political reporter, not a religious one and cannot distinguish between Pope Francis' pastoral theology and leadership (compared to Pope Benedict) and the sure and certain unchangeable elements of Catholic dogmas, doctrines and moral teachings (with natural law included in the moral teachings) that Pope Francis will not change since he cannot change these even if he wanted, which he doesn't, because he's Catholic and has no authority to change these. But this is what politicized Catholic Neumayr believes:

"While some of the media’s claims about Francis are excessive, at least one is dismayingly real…: that Francis is more liberal than his predecessors. Indeed, not a week passes without some new papal statement or action to puzzle conservatives and embolden liberals."

My final comment: Those in the media, Catholic or secular, twisting and spinning Pope Francis for their own ideological reasons are the ones who are deluded and will be extremely unhappy by Pope Francis' successes in his progressive pastoral endeavors and in maintaining Catholic orthodoxy (right teaching) in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Faith and Morals, (Natural Law) and what is called the Deposit of Faith and fidelity to the Magisterium!


Pater Ignotus said...

Regarding the "careerism" that Pope Francis laments, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti has offers this take in his book, "Letters to My Brothers":

"As a theoretical background, we ought not fall into the temptation of looking at the Church using a corporate business model. This model, at times, unconsciously drives our actions. We priests are not simply trying to keep the wheels of the organization turning. Rather, we recognize that we are a community of faith guided by the Holy Spirit. We are each, individually and collectively, called to give witness and to serve the people as guided by the Holy Spirit. If we follow the Spirit without reserve, there will be blessings and grace in abundance overflowing for the needs of the community. This is not something a corporation would profess, but it is integral to our vision of Church and Spirit." (page 64-65)

Maybe that is the careerism that Francis sees as needing correction.

Anonymous said...

"We can say Pope Francis is a traditionalist, in the classic meaning of the word, when it comes to popular piety or what he refers to as "popular spirituality" of the lowly, the rank and file Catholics of the world, especially in his beloved South American Continent. "

Francis said that the Blessed Mother, at the foot of the cross, could have thought "I was lied to, I was cheated". He told an atheist to follow his conciense, he told radical nuns to ignore any letters from the CDF and joyfully continue on their way, he told people to go back home and cause a "mess" in their diocese. He doesn't go out to the world and preach the gospel to Jews and Muslims but tells them to remain Jews and Muslims but be good ones. He said that when engaging people of other religions we need to stop having the conviction that our beliefs are true. In what world is this man a traditional Catholic. In what world is he Catholic? This rationalization of Francis' blatant deficiencies can't last. Eventually he will not be constrained by the premicise that as long as he doesn't officially teach heresy he can remain pope. Like all liberals he won't be able to restrain himself. The day will come when he will formally try and make official one of his questionable beliefs, that's when the split in the Church becomes official. This "loyal son of the Church" business is old, it doesn't pass the smell test. You won't publish this comment because like your friends at Fishwrap and all liberals you will not tolerate opposing opinions. Although their is nothing disrespectful in my opinion. He is a disaster and everybody knows it. He left his diocese in Argentina in a shambles and he will do the same with the worldwide Church.

Anonymous said...

Speechless is how this post left me. Ya, Christ said the gates of Hell shall not prevall. But that doesn't mean the Church won't be brought to the very brink. It doesn't mean that only a handful will be left who are faithful. We got the pope we deserved. The Faith has not been taught for decades and unspeakable evil and filth within the priesthood was fostered, ignored and in many occasions fostered on a worldwide scale. We deserve the chaos that is taking place. We deserve every bit of it just like the Isrealites did after God brought them through the Red Sea and they still were unfaithful and god left them to wonder for decades. That's what is happening.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I am so very, very glad, that on the Cross in which our Savior hung and as below the cross, where Mary contemplated in grief, (a marvelous Middle Eastern response of the BVM in Mel Gibson's movie, where she tears at the earth which can only evoke in those who witness it the profound loss and hope she had experienced in her Son, maybe thoughts of being duped, lied to or decieved, she did not give into the temptation of the devil and did not sin against hope or witness to despair. And of her son, who died for the scandalous, perverted sins of priests, relgious and deacons and bishops throughout the ages and even today and for the evil that all men and women have committed or ever will, he did not give up on us in hopeless despair but in the ultimate act of love allow these sins and evils to be brought to His body that caused its death.

Anonymous, please witness to your Catholic faith which is built on the faith and hope of our Blessed Mother and what Jesus' did in not forsaking us and His holy Church.
Sins against hope are still sins, unless you are a coloring book Catholic and know not this truth as is the sin of despair.

Anonymous said...

Now Mel Gibson's fantasies are cited as norms for understanding Pope Francis? This just gets curiouser and curiouser...

Anonymous said...

Why would I brave the bitter January cold, endure ridicule and insults to March For Life when the pope says I'm obsessing? Why would I take a day off from work, and lose money I desperately need to March For Life alongside a cardinal who honored Ted Kennedy? Why bother spending the energy to fight liberalism in a Church that clearly hates me for loving what the Church has always taught? I want the Church I loved since the cradle but I have to face facts it doesn't exist and I'm not welcome in this newly created "church". A church that embraces pervert priests and puts a roof over their heads while homeless people sleep in cardboard boxes. Now it is so bad that we have a pope who HATES tradition. The reality for me is that I can't spend any more energy caring or trying. Liberalism has won. I'm done. Enjoy your neo Protestant religion, you can have it all. You can have your pervert protecting bishops, your circus masses, your abortion loving habit less lesbian nuns. I'm done. Now that I think of it why did I even bother for so long. Why would I want to associate myself with a bunch of heretics and people who believe nothing the Church teaches. Thanks Francis for opening my eyes. Now I can sleep in on Sundays, have more money, and do what I want without the guilt. Maybe I'll be that good atheist Francis wants me to be. The Gospel doesn't seem to matter to him, so why should I care.

Gene said...

I have heard Anonymous' thoughts echoed by other devout/traditional Catholics. This is serious business.

Henry said...

"Indeed, not a week passes without some new papal statement or action to puzzle conservatives and embolden liberals."

Perhaps what he means is better and more accurately expressed in religious terms:

"Indeed, not a week passes without some new papal statement or action to puzzle faithfully believing Catholics and embolden progressive and dissident Catholics."

Anon friend said...

Yes, Father, Anonymous is in anger and possibly despair. But rather than consign him/her to the gates of hell, perhaps some encouragement and love. That level of anger needs to be talked through with professionals who care and can help. We here need to encourage him to seek that help, because he/she desperately needs some peace.
Father, your first paragraph is a wonderful insight and good food for us to contemplate. Thanks.

non-anonymous said...

A question: If Francis were to be asked about the SSPX, would he say "who am I to judge?" or would he give mean-spirited insults like "self absorbed neo pelagian" or "neo protestants"?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I hold Catholics who purport to be Orthodox and not heterodox to a higher standard than progressives who pick and choose which pope they'll like and which teachings they will follow. Orthodoxy means exactly that especially for Catholics and the respect due the Holy Father regardless of the things that he does on the pastoral level, or how he dresses!

Anonymous said...

What is the difference betweena church that changes on the whims of the Pope and sola scriptura that changes on my whims? Neither has a reliance on the Apostles. It's just a transference of responsibility outside of myself to someone else and his erroneous whims...

rcg said...

Anonymous, you should take care on a couple of points. First, don't make the condition of your belief the belief of another person, even if that person is the Pope. I suppose we have all been asked why we pray to the Pope, why we worship him. Of course we don't, so no matter what his actions, the Church remains, Truth remains, Christ will be true to His Bride. As John Nolan has pointed out some Popes have been been real SOBs. Second, be careful that you don't contribute to and take part in the confusion. I share your confusion on many points, but I think the Pope is trying to communicate with people who feel they Church wants no interaction with them. He has let them know they are welcome, and he has confined for them what the teachings of the Church are. As part of their salvation process they will have to ask themselves honestly what the connection is and how that gap is bridged. I do not interpret most of what he says as many seem to do. I am concerned that his apparent laxity allows for intentional misinterpretations. But this seems to be the same point that confuses progressives about traditionalists. We CHOOSE to have less freedom. It is our desire to do God's will that makes us want to submerge and abandon our personal will in His Presence. Pope Francis is presenting his ministry to the souls at the furtherest fringes, not just calling them back, but asking them to make that turn of their own will. I do not feel diminished one bit if one of them turns around and is welcomed back. There is enough glory to go around in Heaven, and if I make it I hope some of my friends and relatives I thought lost will be there because they heard that call from Pope Francis.

George said...

We know that in the history of the church there have been popes that have been less than splendid(to put it charitably).
There have been quite of few that have been canonized. Between the worst and the best of them there were a lot that fell in between.
We must always keep in mind that the Holy Father is a human being
like the rest of us, with our foilbles and imperfections. When one ascends the Chair of Peter it does not mean that one can no longer sin. The Holy Father needs our continued prayers, not our protestations(however well intentioned those may be). Let us not be those who for some reason expect Pope Francis to not be infallible in matters of faith and morals which is something that has held for every predecessor before him and is indeed part of the foundation of our very belief.
The Church has survived for 2000 years and it will be here intact until the end of time.

Anon friend said...

Thank you, rcg and George (yet again!) for your reasonable responses. The whole "higher standard" thing can fail at SO many levels: lay, ordained and Papal. We all have to continually be aware of our higher calling; and we all have to continually call each other to health and wholeness in Christ who was and is our model.

George said...

Pope Francis said that the Blessed Mother, at the foot of the cross, could have thought "I was lied to, I was cheated".

Here we go again.

It is my position that the Holy father was conveying to those he would hear these words, especially
mothers, what might have been their reaction in that situation. In fact there are those who have had this kind of reaction over the death of a young child who would never grow into adulthood and fulfill the hope the mother had for that child. This kind of life disruption has resulted in some losing their faith and thus leaving the Faith. This is something many can relate to although I have read accounts and some of us may personally know of those whose reaction was one of stoicism.

The same with Mel Gibson. I believe he was conveying this kind of reaction in his film for effect( yes, to good effect).

Does anyone believe that Christ would withhold the purpose of His redemptive mission on earth to His mother, and that she having been so informed by Him would react this way? He would not and she would not. I think it is wrong to imply that Pope Francis meant otherwise.
The Virgin Mary was and is more blessed than the holiest, holier than any of the saints,and more knowledgeable of her son then any theologian.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Father, but please stop putting whole paragraphs in red, as they're harder to read on an iPad/iPhone...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Dang, just learned how to do that!

Православный физик said...

I'm certainly not a Pope Francis fan, and I've come to defense of him on several occasions on this blog….The problem is that sometimes it's not a twisting of what he's said (or reported to have said, etc)…Sometimes the very words of Pope Francis are the problem…considering the conditions for infallibility are very strict, there's no problem for people (as long as charity remains to the office) to take words and perhaps on occasion correct them. Pope Francis is not a heretic, but there are times when I read certain addresses that make me go hmmmm….As I've said on my blog, there's no need to justify everything that comes out of the mouth of Pope Francis, some of it may not be orthodox, and it's okay because the Pope is only infallible under very strict circumstances.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't care foe his imprecise language and the ambiguities also. I pray that those close to him are warning him of how divisive this is an
Nod creating unnecessary confusion and anger in those who are most supportive of the papacy and Magisterium as well as devotions traditional orthodox Catholics!