Monday, March 19, 2018


Press title for Russ Doubthat's lengthy New York Times article:

Pope Francis Is Beloved. His Papacy Might Be a Disaster.

Some money-bites:

At the same time, Francis has allowed a tacit decentralization of doctrinal authority, in which different countries and dioceses can take different approaches to controversial questions. So in Germany, where the church is rich and sterile and half-secularized, the Francis era has offered a permission slip to proceed with various liberalizing moves, from communion for the remarried to intercommunion with Protestants — while across the Oder in Poland the bishops are proceeding as if John Paul II still sits upon the papal throne and his teaching is still fully in effect. The church’s approach to assisted suicide is traditional if you listen to the bishops of Western Canada, flexible and accommodating if you heed the bishops in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. In the United States, Francis’ appointees in Chicago and San Diego are taking the lead in promoting a “new paradigm” on sex and marriage, while more conservative archbishops from Philadelphia to Portland, Ore., are sticking with the old one. And so on.
These geographical divisions predate Francis, but unlike his predecessors he has blessed them, encouraged them and enabled would-be liberalizers to develop their ambitions further. In effect he is experimenting with a much more Anglican model for how the Catholic Church might operate — in which the church’s traditional teachings are available for use but not required, and different dioceses and different countries may gradually develop away from each other theologically and otherwise.
People waved a Chinese flag when Pope Francis greeted the faithful in Vatican City last year.CreditAngelo Carconi/European Pressphoto Agency 
This experiment is the most important effort of his pontificate, but in the last year he has added a second one, seeking a truce not with a culture but with a regime: the Communist government in China. Francis wants a compromise with Beijing that would reconcile China’s underground Catholic Church, loyal to Rome, with the Communist-dominated “patriotic” Catholic Church. Such a reconciliation, if accomplished, would require the church to explicitly cede a share of its authority to appoint bishops to the Politburo — a concession familiar from medieval church-state tangles, but something the modern church has tried to leave behind.
A truce with Beijing would differ from the truce with the sexual revolution in that no specific doctrinal issue is at stake, and no one doubts that the pope has authority to conclude a concordat with a heretofore hostile and persecuting regime. Indeed, he is building on diplomatic efforts by his predecessors, though both of them declined to take the fraught step to a formal deal.
But the two truces are similar in that both would accelerate Catholicism’s transformation into a confederation of national churches — liberal and semi-Protestantized in northern Europe, conservative in sub-Saharan Africa, Communist-supervised in China. They are similar in that both treat the concerns of many faithful Catholics — conservative believers in the West, underground churchgoers in China — as roadblocks to the pope’s grand strategy. They are similar in that both have raised the specter of schism by pitting cardinals against cardinals and sometimes against the pope himself.


TJM said...

Beloved? LOL

Tom Makin said...

I don't understand why the church, as led by the Holy Father through our Bishops, is so afraid to stand against the the assault by moral relativists. The "fox is in the hen house" now and getting him out will be terrifically difficult. Please help me understand what happened?

ByzRC said...

And, MT thinks Pius XII was a radical. Francis is laying the groundwork for fragmentation and fiefdoms.

Anonymous said...

While the issues laid out by Mr. Douthat are problematic indeed, I'm curious (this is a serious question) how much the current situation differs from days of yore. In the past century, the North American church had a different style from the Central American church, the Spanish church was more repressive and regressive than the French church, annulments were easy to come by in some countries but not others. Church historians, please chime in here and tell me if I'm wrong. But my sense is that conservatives are blaming Francis for theological developments long in the works.

I would not cut a deal with China, though. No way.

TJM said...


That's because MT is not reality based.

Funny, Paul VI cut a disgraceful deal removing Cardinal Mindszenty, a true hero for the Faith, as Primate of Hungary to pacify the godless Communists. Paul VI wasn't fit to tie Mindszenty's shoes. Talk about lack of prophecy. About 15 years after that deal which did not benefit the Church at all, Communism fell in Hungary. No one there has anything good to say about Paul VI.

Pope Francis is falling into the same trap.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese situation is not new. The back-channel discussions have been going on for twenty years. That they are just now c4oming to the forefront may be disturbing, but this is not a "MASSIVE" paradigm shift, really.

The Holy See has always preferred quiet diplomacy. Pius XII was accused on not speaking openly against the Nazi terrors, but he knew what might be the result if he had done so. His work against Nazism was nothing short of heroic, but. because it was done quietly and without In-Your-Face behavior, some thought him "unprophetic."

Nazism died in a few years.

ByzRC said...

This photo reminds me of the statue of Lady Justice with her scales no longer in balance.

rcg said...

Isn’t Pope Francis’ policy, political doctrine, a natural extension and conclusion of vernacular liturgy?

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Please tie up the point you are desperately trying to make regarding Pope Francis in stark contrast to Pius XII? Pius XII was at personal risk, Pope Francis is not.

John Nolan said...

In the past popes allowed secular rulers to nominate bishops, and this still applies in the Church of England, where the final say lies with the Prime Minister (not the Queen, although she is Supreme Governor). However, they were Christian rulers, not atheistic Communists.

However, just as Paul VI's foreign policy was directed by Cardinal Casaroli, I suspect the China policy is Cardinal Parolin's. Argentinians are not used to diplomacy. In 1982 the wily Brits managed to get a UN resolution to back their retaking of the Falklands, although they didn't actually need one.

Anonymous said...

"Pius XII was at personal risk, Pope Francis is not."

Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the diplomacy of the Holy See is most often carried out quietly through back-channel negotiations.

Which has nothing to do with the fact that these negotiations with China have been going on for 20 years, beginning long before the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Holy See's desire to see the Church in China unified and regularized.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Nice try but epic fail. And the Holy See is betraying faithful Catholic clergy and faithful in China so the world's "elites" who today favor China hegemony will think Pope Frank is real cool. It's a betrayal of massive proportions and will not help the Catholic Church in China one whit.

Victor said...

The China case is shameful. So-called negotiations have been going on so long for many years because it is difficult to deal with a Communist government whose platform is atheism. But when you get a pope who thinks Communism is a model for Christian social justice, and whose close friends from South America are sympathetic to liberation theology, and with negotiators who are not Chinese and have no first-hand experience of Chinese repression of Christians, then a deal is at hand which will send the the suffering underground Church to the lions.

Mark Thomas said...

by Edward Pentin

March 16, 2018 A.D.

Asia Bibi: Rosary From Pope Francis Is a ‘Great Consolation’

The Christian woman, imprisoned and on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, said it is a ‘miracle’ she has been allowed to keep the Rosary which she has received with ‘devotion and gratitude.’

Asia Bibi, the Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, has said it is a “miracle” that she has been allowed to keep a Rosary, recently given to her by Pope Francis.

“It is the first time in nine years that I have been able to hold a religious object in my cell,” Asia said, according to a March 15 statement from the Italian branch of the charity, Aid to the Church in Need.

The mother of five added that she had received “this gift with devotion and gratitude” and that the “Rosary will be of great consolation for me, just as it comforts me to know that the Holy Father prays for me and thinks of me in these difficult conditions.”

Jailed in June 2009 and sentenced to death in 2010, Asia has been held in one of the three windowless cells on death row in the southern province of Multan in the Punjab Penitentiary. She received the Rosary from her husband Ashiq and daughter Eisham who visited her in prison on Monday.

Ashiq and Eisham had just returned from their trip to Italy with Aid to the Church in Need, during which they were received in private audience by the Holy Father on Feb. 24.

At that meeting, Pope Francis gave Eisham an extra Rosary to bring to her mother and assured her of his prayers. During their visit to Asia in prison on Monday, Eisham relayed the Pope's “touching words” and the “emotional meeting” they had with him, during which Eisham embraced the Pope on behalf of her mother, as Asia had instructed.

In comments to the Register March 16, Alessandro Monteduro, Aid to the Church Need’s Italian director, said that “knowing Asia Bibi will be able to pray with a Rosary in her hands after nine years in prison touches all of us.”

He added that he would “never forget” the “affection with which the Holy Father first embraced and kissed Eisham and then specifically gave a Rosary to her, and one for her mother.”


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

With regard to church governing controversies, who knows...maybe we are getting near the end times? A country saddled with trillions in debt (and debt which grows, no matter who is the president) shootings...Catholics in Congress who defend abortion and same-sex marriage...general moral decay...emptying churches

Anonymous said...

"Nice try but epic fail."

No, it's no fail at all. It's a refusal to be drawn into your "epic" and tiring attempts to divert conversations.

You want to use this and any comment from anyone as the basis for your lunatic rants and raves about whatever is the bee in your bonnet on a given day.

Maybe that's just how your brain works, but it's not much of a basis for any adult conversation.

Anonymous said...

The office of the Pope and also every bishop are very important for unity of the Church. The current Holy Father and many of his ideologically sympathetic bishops have totally ignore this very basic responsibility as they continue to fragment and confuse centuries old teachings derived from holy scripture. In fact they are in schism with tradition and hence with "The Way" as Jesus proclaimed it. (It is possible that this situation may be put in more diplomatic language but the facts remain.)

I predict the April 7 Rome conference will be remembered as the date when the Pope will be told about the same thing, as I said above, but in a clever and nuanced manner, just wait and see.

TJM said...

Hey Kavanaugh Anonymous,

Speaking of lunacy, here's a history lesson for you:

Church Concordat with Hitler: epic fail
Church Concordat with Mussilini: epic fail
Prediction on CHurch Concordat with China: epic fail

See a common thread? Papacy trying to cut deals with totalitarian regimes never benefits the Church in the long term. Einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting differerent results.

John Nolan said...

'The Church in China unified and regularized'. Unified to what and regularized by whom? There's the rub.

I feel no unity with those who organized the liturgical travesties manifested in the recent Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, or with the bishops who spinelessly participated in them.

As far as I am concerned, they might as well be Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventists. I am not in communion with them, and have not the slightest desire to be.

Anonymous said...

"'The Church in China unified and regularized'. Unified to what and regularized by whom?"

To the Church universal by the Church universal.

"Church Concordat with Hitler: epic fail
Church Concordat with Mussilini: epic fail
Prediction on CHurch Concordat with China: epic fail."

Hitler's long gone, the Church remains.
Mussolini's long gone, the Church remains.

The Church's record regarding totalitarian regimes is: Regimes 00.0%, Church 100%

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

Thanks for the non sequiturs. LOL

John Nolan said...

Isn't it ironic that liberals take refuge in legal positivism when it suits them, yet castigate conservatives as Pharasaical if they resort to it?