Sunday, November 19, 2023


Robert Mickens, quite the progressive, heterodox leaning commentator who writse now for La Croix, wrote this in a recent commentary:

It's no secret that the Roman Catholic Church is deeply divided right now, perhaps as much as it's ever been in the six decades since the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The fractures are most obvious on social media where even priests, bishops and cardinals preach from cyber pulpits all along the theological (or, more correctly, the ideological) spectrum.Pope Francis recently moved against the latest online episcopal celebrity from the doctrinally rigid end of that spectrum when he relieved Bishop Joseph Strickland from his duties as head of the Diocese of Tyler. Appointed to the small Texas see in 2012 by Benedict XVI, Strickland has been one of the most vocal critics of the current pope, whom he has publicly accused of undermining the Deposit of the Faith.

The blind spot in Micken's commentary is that he blames traditionalists and social media for this, rather than the content and style of teaching of Pope Francis. You don't have to be a "Francis hater" to critique Pope Francis' style of teaching, its incoherence and an almost cognitive deficient tendency to sow confusion, anger and shock. 

To blame those who have grown way too weary of this papacy and its devious means of dividing and conquering is to blame victims for sexual abuse by church authorities because they feel the way they do toward their abuser. (And friends, this is an issue in the sex abuse scandal and why it is so diabolical for the Church to this day!)

Then John Allen speaks about something even more amusing, disconcerting, and angering that Pope Francis did this past week in a Roman parish where he spoke to priests of a particular vicariate there.

Allen quotes an Italian blog, which I have often quoted on this blog, Silere non Possum and a commentary that I almost used but thought was way over the top. Allen who lives in Rome acknowledges that this Italian blog is very influential and indicates that there is displeasure with this pope in Italy and Europe because of his negative streak (may be cultural, both Italian and South American) and even antipathetic towards the northern hemisphere of Europe and North America, the USA in particular. 

This is a quote from Allen's Crux Commentary:

In theory this was a private meeting, with no official recording or transcript, but the next day an influential Italian blog called Silere non Possum (“I cannot be silent”) carried a lengthy account of the session, complete with lengthy allegedly direct quotes.

Three lines in particular stand out in terms of news interest.

“You’ll say the pope is a Lutheran”: Francis supposedly said this in the context of discussing his pastoral approach to communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, telling a story about a 60-year-old Italian woman who’d written him a letter explaining that she was in a second marriage and had children with her husband, but couldn’t take communion. According to the blog, Francis said he advised the woman to make a confession and then quietly go to another parish and take communion.

“Some may say that the pope is a relativist. Let it be a fruitful relativism.”: This line was allegedly delivered in the same context, regarding the divorced and civilly remarried.

“Anglo-Saxon culture. Those of us who are Latins, we have closeness to the people. Clericalism is an attitude that’s distant from the people.”: This line, which allegedly came up in the context of discussing the various demands priests often face from their congregations, would appear to suggest that the pope sees clericalism as a particular temptation of Anglo-Saxon clergy.

For the record, Silere non Possum identifies itself as a blog founded by a lay Italian canon lawyer and expert on the Vatican penal system named Marco Felipe Perfetti. It clearly has good sources; major news outlets such as the Associated Press, for example, have quoted its reports on the abuse scandals surrounding ex-Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik.

In presenting its new report, Silere non Possum interspersed the supposed quotations from the pope with its own derisive commentary – helpfully presented in each case in boldface type, so readers couldn’t possibly miss the editorial obiter dicta.

For instance, with regard to the pope’s anecdote about calling the divorced and remarried woman, the blog added: “A tip for pastors: From here on out, take Francis’s cell phone number and post it on the bulletin board, and he’ll solve all the problems.”

One struggles to escape the impression that the blog’s goal was to provide fresh reasons for its readers to get upset with Francis, without necessarily being overly scrupulous about verbatim accuracy.

On the other hand, if the pope never said anything even remotely like what the blog quotes, it’s hard to know why the Vatican wouldn’t say so out loud. A spokesman could simply state, “While the contents of the session were private, I can confirm that the comments attributed to the Holy Father are false.”

Instead, all we’re getting at the moment is a version of the standard “no comment,” leaving it unclear what exactly transpired.

A cynic, actually, might be inclined to conclude that Francis or his advisers are happy enough to have those lines floating around, framing public impressions of what the pope really thinks, without having to take direct ownership of them.

In any event, and until we get either official confirmation or denial, “the pope is a Lutheran” and “Anglo-Saxon culture” vis-à-vis clericalism now take their place alongside “the carnival is finished” and “Hell doesn’t exist” as celebrated non-quotation quotations, from one of the most epigrammatic popes of all time – so much so, in fact, that even stuff he may never have said is well on its way to immortality.

 This pope speaks off-the-cuff so much that Vatican News no longer tries to clarify what the pope said because what the pope said is what the pope said. 

If people who are orthodox overreact to what this pope says which strikes them as opposed to Catholic faith, morals and canon law, who is responsible for that and is it done by the pope in a "passive aggressive" manner to create havoc in those who actually want to hold onto the Catholic Deposit of Faith as two previous popes led to them to do.

I'm not a psychologist, but I think we can critique this pope and his rantings about "rigid" people and his disdain for them, which seems to include most of the Northern hemisphere. He disses them and then that causes them to dis him. It is a completely unhealthy relationship.

Divine intervention is needed. The person with whom the buck stops is the one who has to rectify the dysfunction that he and he alone has created. 

Remember what Robert Mickens wrote which says it all. We all know which pope presided over this unprecedented situation that could lead to a major schism or the plunging of the Church into even more irrelevance for a huge number of Catholics:

It's no secret that the Roman Catholic Church is deeply divided right now, perhaps as much as it's ever been in the six decades since the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). 


1 comment:

rcg said...

The story of the divorcée goes back a few years. The problem is that he is basically counseling her to lie.