Monday, March 13, 2017


Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Rome's St. Magdalene of Canossa Parish - AFP
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Rome's St. Magdalene of Canossa Parish - AFP
Four years ago today I returned to my office and turned on my computer to a live feed of the Sistine Chapel's chimney to see if black or white smoke would appear. As fate would have it, simultaneously a received a phone call from a local TV reporter wanting to ask me some questions about the conclave as a part of a news story. As I was talking to her, I noticed white smoke coming from the chimney. Excitedly I told her that white smoke was coming out. She said, can I come and interview you now.

She along with a cameraman and others in the rectory gathered in our TV room and watched Pope Francis come out onto the Loggia of St. Peter's. I did not know who the heck the man was but a pit formed in my stomach when it was disclosed he was a Jesuit. I did not notice that he wasn't wearing the Mozzetta although the infamous FRMJK who happened to be in the area did.

I was more struck by the fact that the Holy Father looked like a dear caught in headlights and there was a blank, authoritarian look on his face and his arm gestures that we normally associates with popes was lacking, only one arm raised to acknowledge he multitudes. At first I though his other arm was paralyzed.

When I heard His Holiness say good evening in Italian, such a causal and familiar way to greet another Italian, and the Italians knew it immediately as did I, I though yikes, we have an informal George here. No "Praised be Jesus Christ" greeting, no good evening in a familiar way in Italian.

And he spoke Italian as Italian is spoke in the home and on the street. It was practical Italian which I understood very well as it is the Italian my mother and her family spoke with the same Italian sentiments, facial expressions and arm/hand gestures. One has to understand  Pope Francis' Italian and I suspect his Spanish, as street language, not lofty formal Italian. Italians have or at least use to have a formal way of communicating to people not familiar to them, very polite and a casual way of affection for those who are well known, family and friends Pope Francis uses the informal, causal and affectionate form which much tongue-in-cheek that is known when only watching and listening to him in Italian not reading his Italian.

My biggest concern from the screechy right traditionalists is that they are undermining the papacy by their screeching about Pope Francis and the contempt and disrespect shown His Holiness. If in the future a pope more friendly to tradition and the restoration of it in the papacy and the Church, they have set a precedence for the left to be as ugly and divisive as the right has become. If only the traditionalists had be respectful, more so than the contempt the left showered on Pope Benedict, credibility of their orthoxy would have been beyond question. Unfortunately, the traditionalists' venom and outright disrespect of Pope Francis shows they are as heterodox as the left! This is sad and has set the cause for traditional Catholicism back.

But I do find it a bit of irony that the left who often called the right in terms of their adulation of Pope Benedict, ultramontanists are not more ultramontane than anyone on the right was when it comes to their cult favorite Pope Francis. Just read this post from PRAYTELL to prove my point about hypocrisy!

But here on two evaluations of Pope Francis these past four years, one from John Allen of Crux which you can read by pressing this sentence. It appears to me to be fair and balanced both positive and critical.

The other evaluation or severe critique with conspiracy theories galore is from 1Peter5 which you can read by pressing this sentence. This conspiracy theory is intriguing and I suspect that where there is smoke there is fire 🔥 or at least the logic or reality might well be represented. We'll only know, I suspect, on the day we discover who actually assassinated  President Kennedy and that will be from St. Peter at the gates of heaven. BTW, I thought as a child of 9 at the time and still feel it today, that it was this bombshell: President Johnson!


Anonymous said...


You can mock the "conspiracy theorists" as much as you like. But the fact is, as a priest, you are in service of the biggest conspiracy of all: The Devil conspired to destroy the souls of mankind and drag them down to Hell and Jesus beat the Devil by appearing to be defeated on the cross, but shedding His blood to save us. So why would we not think that the Devil continues to work through historic events to serve his conspiracy?

You have been trying for four years to convince us that Pope Francis is something he is not. I have been careful not to badmouth him, but too many of his actions and contradictions speak for themself.

Before you denounce any more of us as conspiracy theorists, think hard about the conspiracy you are a part of.

Rood Screen said...

Wow! You're a media magnet!

I thought he looked like Pius XII when he stepped out on the balcony.

On that day, I already knew a few things about him. I knew that he had a reputation for pastoral and liturgical simplicity, that he opposed the EF Mass and the Anglican Ordinariate, that he believed the people of the Falkland Islands should have no say in their future, and that he used public transportation. I only knew about all of this because I read an article discussing his opposition-to-opposing homosexual unions (he was opposed to homo-marriage, but favored homo-unions, as I recall).

Rood Screen said...


Father McDonald has repeatedly stated his concerns about Pope Francis, while rightly maintaining due reverence for the chair of Peter, and charity towards the fallible human being who occupies it. This is not conspiracy, just Catholicism. May God bless you.

rcg said...

1P5 was very interesting and had some plausability. I don't think the drive by the American Progressive Movment to drive a wedege between American Catholics and the Church is only a theory. They openly want to have a grassroots push to have the American Bishops support contraception and abortion. They have the women religious in their pocket, now.

But what was the leverage applied to push out Pope Benedict? It had to have been a combination of money and personal scandal of himself or someone he felt was important to the Church. It is still difficult to imagine what it could be.

I see Pope Francis and President Obama in similar light. Neither were impressive visionaries or unique in their prior accomplishments but are able to present and support the ideas of others as worthy of support.

Additionally, it seems odd that the Protests could be offered to Benedict by any single person or group. That implies a greater conspiracy or betrays this one as a fiction.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Rcg I agree!

TJM said...

Pope Francis has not brought the "Spring" the Church was hoping for, kind of like Obama did not heal the planet (nor heal racial relations). A lot of hype and adulation by the crazed lefties which has not panned out. When the Church needs a clear, unwavering voice more than ever, we now have confusion. Reminds me of the Paul VI pontificate, the worst pontificate of my lifetime.

Carlton said...

When people don't want to be healed, as many racists don't, then no one, not pope, not president, not even the Son of God can effect that healing.

People hold on to their racist ideas because they are irrationally afraid. Afraid their white daughter will marry a black man, afraid a black women will outperform them at work and get the promotion they want, afraid any black teenager walking down the street is preparing to "jump" them.

Irrational fears, all, but very necessary if one wants to remain afraid. That fear, in their minds, justifies racism. So, they are trapped in Square One.

Anonymous said...

I do not see conspiracy nor a Pope who is conciously pursuing the dictates of organized outside forces.

I see the secular world is on a self destructive binge inspired by the Devil (even as the Pope calls it). Many in the Church have also been a victim of his inspitration. But I do not see organizations directing it. What I see is individuals responding to a malevolent force urging modernity to dehumanize cultures, to reject the Deity and all revealed Truth.

Malachi Martin in Windswept house also described an organized program much like what the conspiracy theorist side describes today. But his novel was/is science fiction. Today, we see diverse forces seeking power to dominate peoples. They employ technologies, ideologies, and awful weapons to achieve their objectives. For centuries the most important countervailing force to the Devil's machinations was the Gospel of Christ. Weakened by divisions and ideologies the Catholic Church at the present time is unable to act effectively. Other Christian communities are similarly suffering from uncertainty and unable to respond to Jesus' call to teach all Nations.

We Catholics must pray and work to renew our Church from within. Benedict XVI and his collaborators waere on the right tract but negative forces inside the Church temporarily prevailed against them. The struggle is not lost and because it is Christ's Church it will overcome in the long run I have no doubt. All of us must reform and recommit to aid those among us who are willing and able to lead the struggle to reform of the reform. Do not go along to get along with relativists among us whos main objective is to gain the approval of secularists, the present Age.

The present and future Popes have a tremendeous responsibility in this struggle. The current occupant of the Chair of Peter has elected a course to follow which by any reckoning is risky and controversial. He comforts many and he also scandalizes many by his words and actions. Right now he is not looking to be a martyr for the faith. I am praying that in time he would change his mind.

Rood Screen said...


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. While racism is obviously a chosen ideology, I think many forms of race prejudice are really unintended, and can be overcome once they are brought to the attention of the one holding them. What do you think?

TJM said...

Ironically, since the Council, instead of the Church influencing the World, the World has influenced the Church, to the Church's detriment.

Mark Thomas said...

Once upon a time, prior to the Catholic right-wing's complete collapse into sick, sinful, and vicious commentary in regard to the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, one encountered the following rational report:

Rorate Caeli blog, June 3, 2014 A.D., during which New Catholic praised Pope Francis as a Traditional Catholic Pope in regard to the Church's Social Teaching:

Posted by New Catholic at 6/03/2014 08:45:00 PM

"Very few indeed have been making the case, a case that is true, that the positions stated by Pope Francis on economic and social matters are much closer to the Traditional Catholic position on the economy and the State than not.

"Indeed, it can be said unhesitatingly that this is one area in which the Pope will find mostly allies in Traditional Catholics.

"They know by heart, also as victims of injustice (including within the Church), that the doctrine of the Church regarding people, society and economic relations, and individuals faced with government, is one which privileges "justice" as its foundational aspect."

"We would like to reinforce what we posted just a few days ago: social concerns, in theory and in practice, cannot be left by Traditionalists as an unoccupied field to the ecclesiastical "leftwing", to the unbelieving liberals.

"By criticizing the current Pope when he indeed defends positions kept by his predecessors on Social Doctrine (admittedly, Pope Francis often fills such defense with unexpected idiosyncrasies, but not essential deviations), "Conservatives" bring themselves to an untenable position.

"The traditional Catholic Social Doctrine is ours, it is wholly traditional, and it is our responsibility to defend it, to put it into practice in our communities (including with specific actions for the benefit of the most derelict in society), and also to defend His Holiness in those cases in which he makes its defense in the current economic environment."


Mark Thomas

"...whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope."

— Pope Saint Pius X, 1912 A.D.

TJM said...

Mark Thomas,

It would appear that Pope Francis is not holy because he is dissenting from St. John Paul II, get it?

Anonymous said...

"There was something in his face. In the way he stared down at the gathered crowd. There was something…wrong about his eyes. What I saw — what I thought I saw — was something other, looking out through that unreadable mask. Something triumphant, haughty, contemptuous, leering out at long last from atop the pinnacle of a long and hard-fought battle. It was incredibly strange."

I remember the awful feeling that came upon me--in his very first moments on the balcony--that I recalled the very same look in the eyes of the priest and a nun back in the 1960s as they gleefully watched the (literal) jack-hammering of the altar, communion rail, and statues in our beautiful old parish church, as tearful parishioners stood by helplessly. That same helpless feeling and foreboding, about what's being done to Holy Mother Church, is back with us.

TJM said...


That nun and priest were engaged in evil. I suspect they abandoned the Church after they committed sacrilege