YIKES, THIS IS CONCERNING IF TRUE BUT OF COURSE IT CAN'T BE!?!?!?
Ross Douthat who writes for The New York Times and is a commentator sometimes on CNN is not a flaming liberal nor a rigid conservative. But he does have some discomfort with our current pope and the direction in which we are moving with him. So this colors, I think, his lengthy essay in The Atlantic's May edition. I did not know about 1979 novel, The Vicar of Christ and the similarities it has with what the same named Pope is doing today. Scarey and Twilight Zone kind of stuff!
In 1979, almost a year into the papacy of John Paul II, a novel called The Vicar of Christ spent 13 weeks on the New York Times
best-seller list. The work of a Princeton legal scholar, Walter F.
Murphy, it featured an unlikely papal candidate named Declan Walsh—first
a war hero, then a United States Supreme Court justice, and then (after
an affair and his wife’s untimely death) a monk—who is summoned to the
throne of Saint Peter by a deadlocked, desperate conclave.
Once elevated, Walsh takes the name Francesco—that is,
Francis—and sets about using the office in extraordinary ways. He
launches a global crusade against hunger, staffed by Catholic youth and
funded by the sale of Vatican treasures. He intervenes repeatedly in
world conflicts, at one point flying into Tel Aviv during an Arab
bombing campaign. He lays plans to gradually reverse the Church’s
teachings on contraception and clerical celibacy, and banishes
conservative cardinals to monastic life when they plot against him. He
flirts with the Arian heresy, which doubted Jesus’s full divinity, and
he embraces Quaker-style religious pacifism, arguing that just-war
theory is out of date in an age of nuclear arms and total war. (This
last move eventually gets him assassinated, probably by one of the
governments threatened by his quest for peace.)
Murphy’s book is mostly forgotten, but his hook, the idea of
a progressive pope who sets out to bring sweeping change to
Catholicism, has endured in the cultural imagination. The
priest-novelist Andrew M. Greeley’s 1996 potboiler White Smoke,
for instance, culminates in the election of a modernizing Spanish
cardinal, whose conservative opponents are undone by the wily
politicking of two Irish American prelates. Two years ago, Showtime shot
a pilot for a series called The Vatican, in which Kyle Chandler (a k a Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights)
played a rising-star New York cardinal with progressive views—only to
spike the show, perhaps feeling overtaken by events, 10 months after
Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned.
The possibility of a revolutionary pope isn’t one that most
Vatican-watchers have taken seriously, and not only because a college of
cardinals with members appointed by John Paul and Benedict seemed
unlikely to elevate a true wild card to the office. The reality is that
popes are rarely the great protagonists of Catholic dramas. They are
circumscribed by tradition and hemmed in by bureaucracy, and on vexing
issues Rome tends to move last, after arguments have been thrashed out