There is a Sixties’ pop song in Italy, “Non e’ Francesca”, which every Italian knows and could sing. Including, probably, newborn babies, already dead people, and people with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. The song is cruelly beautiful and its enduring popularity, now arrived at the fourth generation, is utterly deserved.
“You are mistaken”, says the singing voice (the late, but not forgotten, Lucio Battisti), “she whom you have seen is not Francesca”; and he does not want to believe that the wife he believes so true is, in fact, undoubtedly betraying him.
Why do I tell you this? Because I love my country, and the best of even its pop culture, and the wonderful sense of humanity we carry with us, shortcomings and all; and Lucio Battisti, and this particular song, is as much a part of Italy as the Colosseum, or the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.
But there is also another reason: this very song is the obvious “insider joke” (for Italians) of Antonio Socci’s book, of imminent publication, and pre-selling already very well on Amazon: “Non e’ Francesco”. His own newspaper has very recently made the surprise announcement.
In it, Socci apparently states that you are mistaken: he whom you think the Pope is not Francesco, but Benedetto.
I have already written about the Rapunzel-like fantasies of the proponents of such outlandish theories, and I will not repeat them here.
I only ask this: when Pope Benedict dies who is, pray, supposed to be the Pope? Francis is no Pope – they say – and his election invalid. If Francis should die or resign, the election of his successor would also be invalid, because effected through a number of Cardinals appointed by a non-Pope. Nor could any other rule, bar the Second Coming, offer an unquestioned, valid way of election, as every alternative method would cause division and controversy on an absolutely atrocious scale. Mind, here, that for Socci five votes instead of four in the same day suffice to invalid an election (how he can be sure of the five is another matter), so it follows that every other rule would be a far bigger deviation, and totally arbitrary, and I can’t see how a validly elected Pope can come out of it.
So: is not the consequence of Socci’s thinking a Sedevacantism in instalments? How would the proposer of the theory recover from it?
And as we are there: are we really sure the number of votes in past conclaves was always the prescribed one? Not one more, not one less? What is, therefore, if a Pope was elected in such a procedurally vitiated way? Shall he be a valid Pope merely because there was no Emeritus around? What about his own appointments? Was the successor validly elected? How so, particularly in case of a long pontificate of the “Francesco” of the day?
And let us think further: Francis dies or resigns. What then? Is Benedict Pope? How so? Will he say “I have caved in to blackmail, therefore I should be reinstated”? Seriously? Shall he be re-elected? By whom? By Cardinals appointed by non-Pope Francis?
Or, Francis dies, and Benedict says “stop dreaming, Jungs!” (He has, by the way, he has! Socci was listening to Battisti, so he missed that…). What then, skipper? Unless the Cardinals elect Benedict again and he says “I accept, but I was always Pope anyway” and proceeds to appoint as Cardinals the new ones (or deprive them of their red hat) I can’t see how this will work.
Socci has, no doubt, an answer to all this. We will have to wait for the book. I merely doubt it will be a credible one. But we shall see.
Up to then, and if you ask me, and remaining by the song pun, Socci should listen to the song again and again and repeat to himself its first three words: “ti stai sbagliando”.
You are mistaken.
The (excellent, from what I can understand) Argentinian blog “Wanderer Revisited” has this interesting picture collage about two Popes.
I am not good at Spanish, in the sense that it is only accessible to me in the way it would be to a casual Italian reader. But one certainly does not need great language skills to understand the message of this:
More and more people are opening their eyes. More will follow as October approaches.
Let us be vigilant, and let us fight against the huge tide of satanic deception coming our way.
I know it seems absurd, but apparently there are people around who think they aren't Sedevacantists because they think Benedict is the Pope. What they are, is Sedevacantists In Waiting.
Let us leave aside the absurdity of saying that Benedict is Pope when he himself says it is absurd to think so. Let us imagine Benedict has been, say, hypnotised to say so. Or they have threatened to kill his cat. Or something like that.
If Benedict is Pope and Francis isn't, the latter's appointment are invalid. Not only those of the bishops, but those of the Cardinals, too. Therefore, the next conclave will take place with a number of invalidly appointed Cardinals, and I am unable to see how from such a conclave a legitimate Pope might be elected.
Then, at some point Benedict will die, and the Benedictsedists will have to recognise that the Sea is vacant. Then, at some point, Francis will die or resign too, and the now Benedictsedevacantist will have to recognise that his successor is a bogus Pope elected by bogus Cardinals in an invalid conclave. Then at some point – actually rather fast now – all the Cardinals appointed by JP II and Benedict XVI would be above eighty and as such, according to the rule of those same Popes, would lose the right to elect a Pope. Therefore, there would be no Cardinals who can elect a Pope, no mechanism to elect new ones, and no authority that could give validity to whatever new method to elect a Pope.
We would, therefore, be in a situation of utter impasse, for which no solution can be found within Church rules that would allow to get out of it.
Mind, Popes were not always elected by Cardinals. But they were always elected in recognisable harmony with the will of their predecessors. Who could, now, say with any authority what this will is, and therefore which rules shall apply? Shall those Bishops elect the Pope, who have accepted to serve under illegitimate Popes? Who will decide Francis' bishops are to be excluded? How many pre-Francis bishops will remain in a decade or two? Shall we make a poll among pre-Francis priests, instead? Those who have deemed Francis and his successor Popes, you mean? How long until they are gone, too? Shall we elect the new Pope in a worldwide election, then? Paper poll? Internet? Who will organise it? Shall women be allowed to vote? How about those baptised by Francis' non-priests?
No, this is all absurd. So absurd in fact, that one wonders how the Benedictsedists can utter such outlandish ideas without looking three inches beyond their own nose.
Benedict has resigned. He is not the reigning Pope anymore. Volens nolens, Francis is Pope. An atrocious one, I'll give you that; but the Pope elected from largely atrocious Cardinals, selected among largely atrocious Bishops, selected among largely atrocious clergy, produced from largely atrocious seminars, ruined from a largely atrocious Council.
You can turn it and twist it as much as you like, but in the end Francis is the undeniable product of the visible Church. His legitimacy is universally recognised through all the layers of that organisation we and all our ancestors have called “the Church”. There is no way we can call a fantasy parallel reality into existence, that would declare the real reality a scam and bogus organisation. There is no way any of us can decide, whilst in a sober state, that a fake Church now commands the loyalty of all those seen the world over as Catholic Bishops, Priests, Cardinals, Popes, Deacons, and Seminarians; an entire planet showing the Cross on top of fake churches, with no Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and no valid Masses being celebrated. All this, in favour of a fantasy Church whose last Pope, Benedict, died saying he has validly resigned, and Francis is Pope.
Stop dreaming. Start thinking.
Benedictsedism is sedevacantism in waiting, and in the present situation it is just as absurd as the mainstream Sedevacantism.
The Pontiff Emeritus has officially reacted to Andrea Tornielli's recent questions about the supposed background of his resignation, and has invited to stop absurd speculations.
If you ask me, he was very right in saying a word or three, because such speculations damage the institutions of the Papacy, and we should not damage the Papacy merely because we have an atrocious Pope.
It goes without saying that the conspiracy ultras will not be satisfied with this. If one thinks the Pope was horribly blackmailed into resigning, he will believe his latest statements have the same cause as the resignation. This is the beauty, so to speak, of all conspiracy theories, whose followers are by definition able to persuade themselves of absolutely everything they wish without reality having to provide any concrete evidence of what they believe. It's all secret, you know.
Still, I rather hope reasonable and sensible people will now definitely stop every conjecture on the matter. Not to do so means to insult Benedict to the point of considering him not only cowardly enough to give in to blackmail, but outright servile in that he keeps marching towards his grave with such a weight on his conscience.
The Church does not believe in lesser evils. If a Pope is threatened with a huge scandal unless he resigns, he has the duty not to resign whatever evil may come out of the scandal. This, assuming that the unearthing of a scandal is the evil, rather than the scandalous facts themselves. A Pope can simply not accept to be strong-armed into resigning his office. Popes haven't resigned faced with Napoleon and the possible devastation of Catholicism all over Napoleonic Europe. Just imagine if a Pope should resign to avoid some sex or abuse or financial scandal.
Please let us stop this, and let us be real.
Benedict freely decided to resign. Whether we like it or not.
With ugly regularity one reads of pious Catholics all too ready to give to simple facts a meaning that goes beyond the event, and that they take as unmistakable “God's special sign”; generally, these people do not resist the temptation to give voice to their own superstition, as if their strange theories were obvious for the world to see.
Let us take a couple of examples.
The day Pope Benedict resigned, a blizzard fell on St. Peter's dome. Countless Catholics were ready to read in it a sign of the wrath of heaven. They were ready to do it, of course, because they didn't agree with Pope Benedict's decision in the first place. If I don't like the decision, the reasoning goes, it follows that God must be displeased with it. If God is displeased with it, then let us look at something that corroborates my conviction.
If Pope Benedict had excommunicated Hans Kueng on the same day instead of resigning, I wonder whether the very same lightning would have been interpreted as a sign of God's wrath for the decision.
In those days, some went to even worse extremes: every natural phenomenon of some kind – there is always a storm somewhere, and the next earthquake can't be far away, either – was taken as a witness of what they were already persuaded of. It reminded me of Redskin shamans explaining to the uninitiated the wrath of Manitu.
I even read of someone having bad dreams, which left no doubt in her mind something very wrong had just happened. Hey, she had bad dreams. What else do you need to be persuaded.
But then during the 2013 conclave some bird took place on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, and the shamans were all in a flutter for the contrary reason adduced for the lightning. Ah, a bird stopped to rest over a chimney. What a miracle.
Or think of this: when an extremely strong earthquake and sea quake took the extremely Catholic Messina in, I think, 1908 and killed around 100,000 people, no one deduced from an earthquake and sea quake in a most Catholic city of a most Catholic Country with a most Catholic pope (St. Pius X, no less) that God must be angry at that particular papacy…
This “shaman” mentality extends to very trivial events; like predatory birds attacking the doves just freed by Bishop Francis The Peaceful Killer Of Clueless Birds. Ominous, they said. A sign of the times. Strangely, they never saw a sign of the times on the many occasions in which the doves went away peacefully (to be killed by some other bird shortly thereafter, surely…). Still, if one is prone to such coffee reading he is perfectly free to conclude that God protects the peaceful dove as it flies peacefully away from St. Peter's squares, showing God's support for the humble Pope Of Peace, Francis The Peaceful Protector Of Doves.
Look: birds attack birds. It happens all the time. It's part of the rich fabric of Creation.
The mentality that this implies is a very strange one indeed: God talks to us through events that can be deciphered only by those who already know what God wants to say. Funny world.
The simple truth of the matter is that natural disasters, diseases, and the like all happen because the Garden of Even is no more, and we must live in a world full of imperfections and troubles, and in which the disgraces and diseases are, as a whole, the fruit of our disobedience. Still, cancer will strike the good as well as the bad, earthquakes will destroy the most heathen or the most Catholic of cities, doves will be attacked or not attacked by predatory birds, and the lightning rods of the highest buildings of the surroundings will continue to attract lightnings more than the lightning rods of the surrounding buildings until the end of time.
I invite my readers to have a more reasonable approach to natural events; not only because it is the reasonable thing to do, but equally importantly because if one starts to take random facts as evidence that God is on his side he will rapidly blind itself to the falseness of the most outlandish theories, and will start to believe in whatever he pleases, certain of the reassurance of the next lightning, or earthquake, or comet, or storm, or anything else that may serve the purpose, anywhere on the entire planet.
If my Internet connection is not working, is God telling me I must stop blogging? If I opened my blog and the statistics reader says “666”, am I in the thrall of Satan? Pope Francis has a cold: surely, God is warning him! I got a cold: surely, God wants me to stay home today and blog like there's no tomorrow!
Do not give any heed to Catholic shamans. If you do, belief in daily apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, followed by a fax to the adoring crowds, cannot be far away.
“Invented from alpha to omega” is how Archbishop Gaenswein described the rumours about the Pontiff Emeritus' alleged “mystical visions” (many of them).
I have already dedicated a blog post to this, and warned from falling into the trap of those fake Catholics trying to create a new Magisterium, made “infallible” by the Holy Ghost's alleged endorsement of Pope Francis.
Well, now it's official. From the mouth of the de facto speaker of the Pontiff Emeritus himself.
This reminds me of the idiot who left a message in my combox accusing me of being so evil that I do not read the signs of the Holy Ghost, and blasphemous in stating that God is immutable (never read Aquinas, of course).
From the rumours they are ready to believe you will recognise them.
I expect abject apologies from Zenit, who first spread the rumour. I personally would also be interested in knowing the source of this revelation, because the suspicion the sodomite mafia had a finger in this is more than legitimate.
I somewhat doubt either will happen.
A certain view of Pope Benedict’s resignation goes along the lines of the Pontiff Emeritus having resigned as a consequence of “pressures”, or even having been “forced” to resign. In this second case, his successor would not be the legitimate… bishop of Rome.
I do not think these theories have any solid fundament in reality. Allow me to explain why.
A Pope, like every powerful man, is under pressure all the time. Unavoidably, he – and they – will be surrounded by people having different ideas about the course he should take on this or that matter; some of them will be in good faith, and other won’t. It’s all par for the course.
What is not par for the course is a Pope that suddenly begins to do stupid things just because he is put under “pressure” to do so. Pope Ratzinger had a decade-long experience of positions of power; nothing, absolutely nothing of the office life of a powerful man could have been unknown to him. Powerful people know how it works. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be powerful.
The idea of a Ratzinger just deciding that the time has arrived to think with other people’s head, and do what he thinks wrong because others say so, is just untenable and, I add, disrespectful of the former Pontiff, seen as a Romulus Augustulus rather than a true Prince of the Church.
Be it as it may, it might in all cases never be denied that a man who chooses to bend to exterior pressure is himself responsible for his behaviour. Ubi honor, Ibi onus. There is no way Pope Ratzinger might have taken such a decision without bearing all its responsibility. So we are at square one.
Even more absurd is the second hypothesis: that the Pope was “forced”. How do you “force” a Pope to do something he does not want to do? Is our esteem for Benedict so low that we consider him able to bend to, say, the threat of physical violence, or blackmail? What fear of death may a man of 83 have, a Pope to boot? And who on earth would be in a position to threaten or blackmail him without being immediately arrested? Again, this theory is, when reflected upon, even more offensive for the Pontiff Emeritus, who is then seen as having fears for his life, open to blackmail, and outright cowardly. It makes the same sense as to imagine that extraterrestrials would have visited the Pope and said to him either he resigns or they will invade and destroy the Earth in order to devote it to the cultivation of their favourite mushrooms.
No, it doesn’t make sense. What also does not make sense are these equilibrist’s exercises by which every time the Pontiff does something we do not approve of, the reason for it must be looked elsewhere: typically, the culprits are chosen among the “wolves”, as if a Pope could not send all of them to Uganda at three hours’ notice, and as if there were only one of them who is allowed to exert influence on him for even thirty second without his consent.
In addition, this second theory hides a terrible menace to Catholicism: ad libitum Sedevacantism.
If every time we have a bad Pope we start to theorise that the former Pope might have been “forced” to resign (or have been poisoned, or the like) and therefore the current Pope not validly elected, or the result of murderous scheming, we will create an army of Sunday Sedevacantists who think they can decide, by every Pontificate, whether it is a legitimate one or the Sea is vacant. This in itself is a worse danger than every Papal resignation, and can cause immense damage by weakening the dignity and authority of the Papacy.
If I think that I can freely decide whether the Pope is Pope (say, because I have become persuaded the last Pope was illicitly disposed of), it is fair to say I am the last one who can call himself Catholic.
My suggestion is that we leave the conspiracy fantasies where they belong: to the old cranks, the Sunday Novelists and the Vodka Vaticanists – of whom there will never be any scarcity – and start to respect the Papacy, the Popes and common sense.
Benedict “forced” to resign? Seriously, the “extraterrestrial” theory makes more sense.
We live in terrible times for a Catholic; a time in which not only the… Bishop of Rome is very bad (this has often happened in the past, as I will never tire to point out), but the news of how bad he is goes around the world in minutes. We are, therefore, subject to challenges our ancestors did not have. One of the results of this disgraceful Papacy will be to undermine the prestige of the office, and the devil will try to use this to persuade the faithful that the Church is not the Church, or the Pope is not the Pope, or both.
We, who are good and well instructed Caholics, react to such a temptation. We stay faithful to the Only Church as we bemoan Her miserable state, and we stay faithful to the… Bishop of Rome and to the Papacy he does not even want to mention, because as good Catholics we side with the Papacy even when the Pope is an utter disgrace.
Beware the temptation of escaping the drama that is unfolding under our eyes by fleeing to a fantasy world made of non-popes, of “poping wolves”, or of outlandish theories of Vatican Fiction. The reality is bad enough. It is a Cross we are called to carry. Let’s carry it denouncing every falsehood and scandal, but staying faithful to the institutions of the Church and the Papacy.
Don’t believe the rumours. Believe the facts.
The fact is that the Pontiff Emeritus has said that he did not have the strength, both spiritual and physical, to continue his job as Pope. That’s what he said.
Now there are third-hand, unnamed rumours according to which Benedict would have had a mystical experience (actually many months long; heavy stuff, then…) at the end of which he felt inspired to live a life totally dedicated to prayer.
This already strange news – from, let us say it again, an unnamed source – is made even stranger by the other follow-up rumour, that Benedict would have recognised even more, after “witnessing the charisma” of Francis, that his stepping down was “the will of God”.
God’s will doesn’t change like the one of a sixteen year old girl, so it remains to be explained how Benedict would justify saying “my successor does all the contrary of what I do, but he has “charisma”, so it must be the will of God that he is now the Pope”. It does not make sense from a purely logical point of view, but it makes even less sense if you think Popes are elected at God’s bidding (they aren’t: the Pope is elected by those chaps in red called the Cardinals. Don’t blame God for the Cardinals’ mistakes, irreligious attitude, cowardice, corruption or outright criminal attitude).
If God positively decides who becomes Pope, than this must be a very strange God, positively imposing several dozens of appallingly secular or outright criminal people to His own flock. He would also be as fickle as the above mentioned girl, having decided in 2005 for Ratzinger against Bergoglio and now saying “on second thoughts, Joseph, that in 2005 might have been, like, kinda mistake. I’d rather have the other chap. Would you mind to step down? Please?”.
If you ask me, this is uncontrolled bollocks spread by those who want to give Francis the quality seal “officially endorsed by the Holy Ghost”.
Don’t believe the rumours.
When, and only when, Benedict says publicly that Francis is the man hand picked by the Holy Ghost to be Pope, call a doctor and don’t believe a word anymore of what he says; then in that case it would be clear the good man has clearly gone the sad way of John Paul II; gone, in fact, to the point of insulting the Holy Ghost and the Papacy at the same time. A Koran-kissing Pope, Mk II.
Heavens, can it really be that we live in such stupid times that basic Truth can be undermined by this kind of third-rate bollocks by hearsay? Can it truly be that there are people not only simple enough to think God wanted (as opposed to “allowed”) that the likes of Benedict IX and Leo X, of Liberius and John XXII, and of many others, become Pope, but even that in doing so God would not be able to let even eight years pass without radically, erm, changing His mind?
Such a hypothetical God wouldn’t be believable in a kindergarten, but it must be obviously just the ticket of the V II “revolution” crowd. If the narrative of the “hand picked by the Holy Ghost” were to swallowed by the faithful, we would have a new infallible magisterium, but endowed with a, erm, more recent and “fresher” infallibility than the original one! “Hey, Francis was the man picked by the Holy Ghost with his own hands! How can every blasphemy, heresy or stupid novelty he says not be the new will of God?”.
God is immutable. God never changes His mind, or His rules. If He did, He wouldn’t be God, because the very idea of mutation, of change, of transition is in contradiction with the idea of total, omnipotent perfection that must perforce be an essential element of God. If it is God, it does not change His mind. Whatever changes his mind, can never be God.
If anyone says or implies God “changes his mind” tell him to wash his mouth, and that he deserves to be slapped.
Don’t believe the bollocks by hearsay.
If you had any doubt about the devastating effect of Bishop Francis' senseless self-promotion at the expense of sound Catholicism and elementary truths, this one is only one of the very many articles now on the net concerning the news.
Note the usual two issues: “Francis good, Benedict bad” and “it's a beginning, but by far not enough”. You can read these narratives everywhere.
Now, someone might say “the leftist press spins the Bishop”, but I must strongly disagree.
When Francis himself does not miss any occasion to point out how different he is from his predecessor, can we really blame the press for jumping on it? Francis' and Benedict's attitude towards not only homosexuals, but even sodomites are so distant the two seem to belong to different religions. It is just plain blind to make every possible and impossible effort to try to reconcile the two. The entire planet has picked up the difference, because the difference is there.
How can any sane person expect that a Pontiff waffles the usual “who am I to judge?” Mantra without the world press picking it up? And do you really think Bishop Francis is so thick he thinks he can throw such a bomb without the explosion being heard everywhere? Come on…
Francis knew the conflagration would be huge. This is exactly why he threw the bomb. Or can anyone seriously believe this man is now systematically “misunderstood” in a way which makes him very popular with the world, and lets him appear like the good man “trying to change the Church as much as he can”?
People who don't want to be misunderstood do not insist with “off-the-cuff” comments regularly causing a pandemonium. They express themselves in public with carefully worded statements, that do not leave any space for “misunderstandings”. But this is a revolutionary… Bishop of Rome. He is interested in spreading as much confusion as he can, whilst making himself popular in the process. He says that openly, by the way, and the famous reference to the “noise” is nothing else than a further confirmation of the climate of permanent revolution he wants to create at the grassroots: in the dioceses, in the religious orders, in the universities, in the seminaries, everywhere.
I just wonder: how can a man go on doing exactly the same for four and a half months, without people believing that he does it on purpose?
Does all this, then, achieve some results? Of course it does.
1. Francis is the mascot of the world.
2. The world appreciate Francis' effort, but is not satisfied. “Baby steps”, says the linked article. Tsk, tsk. Not good enough. Much more to do towards the “gays” (a term, tellingly, now used by Francis himself: first time for a Pope). Francis is good, but still not like the world; but everyone understands it's not really his fault, so he does just fine.
Maximum damage for the Church and maximum confusion for the faithful, but maximum personal advantage for the humble Bishop.
One must appreciate the effort made by some to offer what at the beginning appeared a reasonable key of interpretation of the new successor of Peter.
The Church is inherently conservative, and Popes tend to be even more conservative. It was, therefore, absolutely understandable one would consider the novelties of the Bishop of Rome – which, one must admit, the man did not lose a second in showing – as the quirks of an old man, possibly meant to make him popular and possibly meant to make the Church, as a whole, fashionable; quirks that would, it was reasonable to assume, not alter anything substantial in the way the Church understands Herself, with merely the addition of poverty rhetoric, and a generous dollop of Peace 'n Justice.
Soon, though, it became clear this interpretation was more and more difficult to defend: when the refusal to wear the Mozzetta or the red shoes was followed by a serious liturgical abuse on Maundy Thursday, it was clear we are in front of a man who considers himself above Canon Law; a man unable to understand that even if he is the Bishop of Rome and can therefore change some of the rules, he is nevertheless bound by an elementary sense of propriety – and by the necessity to give a good example – to be the first one who abides by them as long as they are there. The oh so humble Bishop was already resembling an Oriental satrap.
With the weeks, it became worse. It was clear to everyone the current Bishop of Rome was insistently and ostentatiously distancing himself from his predecessor. The examples are too many to be all recollected here: from the choice of transport to the refusal to spend the summer in Castel Gandolfo, from the obsessive search for wheelchairs in front of the cameras to the dismal habit of uncontrolled off-the-cuff observations the world absolutely had to be informed about, this man showed more and more clearly he wants to be seen as entirely different from Benedict, totally focused on himself, and completely detached from everything his predecessors have done. Jorge was at this point already madly in love with Francis, and the entire planet had to be informed of the fact. This alone is as Un-Benedictine as can be, and every hope Francis might still be like Benedict – when he did not lose a single occasion to show how different he is – was already appearing the preserve of pathological optimists.
The last weeks have, though, put very thick nails on the coffin of the “reading Francis through Benedict” narrative. The unspeakably arrogant refusal to even suspend such a disgraceful individual as Monsignor Ricca was followed by an even more arrogant, and even more astonishing, downplaying of sodomitical activity as some sin of the youth – as if the man had been chasing skirt in his early Twenties and before his vocation rather than being an inveterate sodomite uncaring for scandal probably until exposed, and certainly well in his Forties and whilst being a Monsignor – and by the mocking dismissal of the existence of the “gay lobby” of whose existence he himself had informed the planet.
At this point, any reading of Francis through I do not say Benedict, but even Paul VI is utterly untenable. On the contrary, this is a man so different from Benedict in absolutely everything – including intellectual and, as is now abundantly evident, moral stature – that every reading of the one through the others is as absurd as the attempt to give a Catholic interpretation of Mein Kampf.
Francis is, sees himself, and wants to be seen as in head on collision with Benedict. He lives in a completely different dimension, in which not even the concept of the most basic decency could be said to be shared with Benedict's worldview. This is the reality on the ground, and has been from the habemus Papam. We have been slow to get the message, because the message is so shocking that it takes a while to even persuade the faithful of it. But this is where we are, and the Bishop of Rome's invitation to “make noise” – when seen in conjunction with his blatant liturgical abuses before and after his accession to the throne – clearly show this man is positively encouraging a revolutionary movement from the grassroots, and countless liturgical and otherwise abuses meant to make the Church more “modern” and “relevant”; that is, meant to sell Her to the world; lock, stock, and barrel.
Of course, Francis will always be, at times, in agreement with Benedict. It's not that he is denying the Trinity, or the necessity of the Sacraments. If Benedict say that two and two is four, Francis will necessarily agree. But this is also where the similarities end, because truly, Bishop Francis could not have troubled himself more to stress how different he is from Pope Benedict; and, I must add, from all the Popes before the latter.
Seriously: if Francis can be read through Benedict, Hitler can be read through St. Thomas Aquinas.
It just doesn't work.
And so the gay-friendly – at least when they are his own buddies – Bishop of Rome is now in Rio, a place known all over the world for its spiritual atmosphere and culture of contemplation and asceticism. Apparently, the mission objective is supposed to be – besides the usual “youth” rhetoric – to revitalise Brazilian Catholicism.
Sandro Magister informs us not more than around two thirds of Brazilians are Catholics nowadays, with Proddies of a newer sort – those who believe in God, I am told – making massive inroads particularly in the big cities; in fact, the same source tells us in Rio the percentage of Catholics is merely 46%, thus making of them a minority compared to the population as a whole.
I have written in the past, but repeat today, that these short-term media exercises all have a short life. You'll hear a lot of people saying they are so “energised”, “inspired” or the like; but when you look at the long-term collective effect, you'll see it tends towards zero.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the UK in 2010 amongst crowds far, far exceeding the most optimistic expectations. Three years later, we have the so-called same sax marriage, and few of those who call themselves Catholic care a.. fag. Nor have his travels in Germany or the US or elsewhere left a permanent mark; nor did, in fact, his predecessor, with his huge theatrical streak, the earth-kissing and the like.
There is no reason whatever to believe the Bishop of Rome will have more success; actually, seeing the type one would be scared at the new Catholics he were to allegedly covert; but be not afraid: it won't happen.
These are media stunts; mere straw fires; the populace flocks to see the Pontiff largely because it's an “event”, something worth one's time in an age constantly looking for some form of excitement. I have actually even heard people saying a Papal visit is a “cultural” event. One doesn't need any sort of value investment to participate to such an event, nor will he take away anything durable from it.
Of course, here and there someone will be deeply impressed. Someone is always doing something. But it is very reasonable to assume serious work on the ground is far more important, and leads to far more serious conversions, than this kind of media circus.
On the contrary: the media circus tries to cure the disease administering more poison to the patience: more superficiality, more easy slogans, more entitlement mentality, more sneaking socialism: that is, more of what has caused the loss of faithful in the first place.
The real evangelisation is made with serious priests on the ground; reverent masses; proper Catholic instruction; open defence of Catholic values on the public square, and the courage to talk about the whole faith – including the unpleasant parts – rather than always hammering on the easy parts (the obsessive mantra of “joy” is the one that always amuses me most; it's like a motivational course for the kindergarten.
We are going to get an awful lot of this in the next days, including all the talk about how “energised” Brazil is. But it is just another straw fire.
If you scour this blog for the posts of June of last here, you will find the news about the impending agreement, when it seemed that the reconciliation had been achieved and only the right moment to make a public announcement was being waited for. Then, the initial reaction of surprise at the news that the widely anticipated reconciliation might not take place. When it became clear that the obvious informal agreement had been changed at the last minute (or misrepresented by people very near to the Pope) your humble correspondent, who doesn’t like to switch his brains off whenever a Pope is in play, dared to write that someone at the Vatican had lied, or had been duplicitorus, or had eaten his words.
When it subsequently became clear that the deal wasn’t going to happen, yours truly pointed out once again to the obvious: the Vatican had changed the cards on the table at the last minute, obviously after green informal green light for an agreement that seemed a done deal.
How the situation had probably evolved originally, I examined here.
Still, after the porcelain was broken I wrote this blog post, with the following observation:
it seems clear to me they are well aware the Holy Father himself has either eaten his word because scared of the results of the agreement, or he has wilfully lied to them when he first indicated his agreement with the SSPX’s version of the preambolo. Their answer to this is rather laconic: “We do not make names here, but if you want to talk to us be serious and stop playing clever guys”.
As an aside, I also made some proposal to improve the “dialogue”; proposals which, as I understand, were not followed.
Bishop Fellay, though, gave Mueller a lesson or two in Catholicism anyway, among other things pointing out that in the past Mueller would have ended in the sight of the same Holy Office he now leads. I heartily agree, by the way.
Who the real responsible of the entire mess was (make no mistake: Pope Benedict) I wrote here.
In the same tone, I pointed out how the appointment of Archbishop’s DiNoia to formally lead the “dialogue” would lead no nothing, if there is no intention to ever reconcile with Traditionalism.
The news making the round in the last hours are, therefore, interesting in themselves, but not entirely new to the readers of this forum: an agreement was certainly signaled to Bishop Fellay as done, prompting the formal offer of the SSPX which was then only waiting for the formal acceptance. At that point, someone ate his word, and if memory serves Bishop Fellay received confirmation in the following months that the one who ate his word was the Pontiff himself.
At the cost of being unpopular, I repeat once again that it is inconceivable that the sudden change in the Vatican attitude was not approved by the Pontiff, who therefore is the one bearing the responsibility for it.
Still, Pope Benedict is too intelligent to think that after two or three years of discussions, the SSPX would have suddenly abandoned the fight that is the very reason of its existence. Rather more probable is that the Pontiff Emeritus thought he could divide the SSPX dangling in front of the moderate elements the carrot of a reconciliation, retracting it at the last moment to see what effect it has. As I have already written i the past, this was too clever by half.
Where we are now, is that in the Vatican there is no interest in even pretending to be interested to a reconciliation. They prefer to reconcile with the Lutherans, and waffle about the “success” of the Reform.
Please let us not kid ourselves: Benedict never wanted an agreement. What is wanted, is either lead the SSPX to accept V II (a scenario improbable to the point of absurdity), or try to divide them in the process. Look at whom he appointed as head of the former Holy Office, and this will show you everything there is to know.
If Pope Francis ignores the SSPX I will still consider the attitude more honest than the disingenuous, frankly unethical ping-pong and carrot dangling we have lived in the past years.
Rorate has these beautiful quotes from Pope Benedict. I have kept the emphases in their entirety.
Please note Pope Benedict made all these comments far before the astonishing regress in Western civilisation achieved since March 2013 in several countries.
Pope Benedict wasn’t a lion, but at least he had the lucidity to understand he had to speak, and the intellectual depth to speak in an effective way.
The contrast is, as they say in Italy, impietoso; that is: merciless.
None of us, in fact, belongs exclusively to himself or herself: one and all are therefore called to take on in their inmost depths their own public responsibility.
Marriage as an institution is thus not an undue interference of society or of authority. The external imposition of form on the most private reality of life is instead an intrinsic requirement of the covenant of conjugal love and of the depths of the human person.
Today, the various forms of the erosion of marriage, such as free unions and “trial marriage”, and even pseudo-marriages between people of the same sex, are instead an expression of anarchic freedom that are wrongly made to pass as true human liberation. This pseudo-freedom is based on a trivialization of the body, which inevitably entails the trivialization of the person. Its premise is that the human being can do to himself or herself whatever he or she likes: thus, the body becomes a secondary thing that can be manipulated, from the human point of view, and used as one likes. Licentiousness, which passes for the discovery of the body and its value, is actually a dualism that makes the body despicable, placing it, so to speak, outside the person’s authentic being and dignity.
Address at the Diocesan Convention in Rome at the Lateran Basilica
June 6, 2005
When new forms of legislation are created which relativize marriage, the renouncement of the definitive bond obtains, as it were, also a juridical seal.In this case, deciding for those who are already finding it far from easy becomes even more difficult. Then there is in addition, for the other type of couple, the relativization of the difference between the sexes.
The union of a man and a woman is being put on a par with the pairing of two people of the same sex, and tacitly confirms those fallacious theories that remove from the human person all the importance of masculinity and femininity, as though it were a question of the purely biological factor.
Such theories hold that man – that is, his intellect and his desire – would decide autonomously what he is or what he is not. In this, corporeity is scorned, with the consequence that the human being, in seeking to be emancipated from his body – from the “biological sphere” – ends by destroying himself.
If we tell ourselves that the Church ought not to interfere in such matters, we cannot but answer: are we not concerned with the human being? Do not believers, by virtue of the great culture of their faith, have the right to make a pronouncement on all this? Is it not their – our – duty to raise our voices to defend the human being, that creature who, precisely in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God?
Christmas Address to the Roman Curia
December 22, 2006
[Human] love is the privileged path that God chose to reveal himself to man and in this love he calls human beings to communion in the Trinitarian life.
This approach enables us also to overcome a private conception of love that is so widespread today. Authentic love is transformed into a light that guides the whole of life towards its fullness, generating a society in which human beings can live. The communion of life and love which is marriage thus emerges as an authentic good for society.
Today, the need to avoid confusing marriage with other types of unions based on weak love is especially urgent. It is only the rock of total, irrevocable love between a man and a woman that can serve as the foundation on which to build a society that will become a home for all mankind.
Address to Members of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute
May 11, 2006
…there are mounting threats to the natural composition of the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, and attempts to relativize it by giving it the same status as other radically different forms of union. All this offends and helps to destabilize the family by concealing its specific nature and its unique social role.
Address to the Diplomatic Corps
January 8, 2007
…no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious.
Address to Participants of Congress on Natural Moral Law
February 12, 2007
Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29).
[Reposted; original post: 2008]
One must truly wonder at the kind of people walking along the corridors of the Vatican.
The statement above was – Rorate reports – initially fed to a relevant Internet site, and only after more than little surprise was expressed at the alleged Pontiff’s words it was taken away and substituted for a more neutral comment about the Pope’s general lifestyle and preferences, and the fact he was so busy.
Concerning the words himself, either the Pope is their author, or he is not. If he is, we are clearly in front of a philistine of the most worrying sort, and one taking a very cheap shot at Pope Benedict to boot. If he hasn’t, he should stop having people near him putting words in his mouth that he has not said. To send out an official denial that he has said the words would also be useful.
Others will comment about the empty chair, and the general duties of a Head of State who is also the Successor of Peter. I would, in this blog post, limit myself to remark that in all probability, those who sent out the statement, directly attributed to him, about the “Renaissance Prince” – which, between you and I, sounds so much like Pope Bergoglio it’s even scary – thought they would make him a service, and increase his popularity.
Not very smart, I know; but thinking of it, if it worked with the bus-riding Pope, the home-cooking Pope, the black-shoes-wearing Pope, the Mozzetta-hating Pope, the bishop-of-Rome Pope and the newsagent-telephoning Pope one can see how some people might think it will work with the oh-so-hard-working, down-to-earth, Beethoven-shunning, “no time for luxuries”, “one-of-us” Pope.
In a way, it makes sense. Most people’s concept of musical achievement stops at the likes of Lady Gaga, and if one is so thick that he thinks riding the bus makes for a better Pope he might well think a Pope who fails to show up at a Beethoven concert is very much in tune with “the people”.
Alas, this time it has backfired. Apparently, to shun the Mozzetta is good, but to shun Beethoven is bad; to disparage pomp is good, but to disparage a classical music concert is bad; the Pope is praised when he breaks liturgical rules, but he is criticised when he breaks rules of etiquette.
Now, if you are one of the simpler kind you may well believe that the Pope did have urgent work to do, like the all-busy CEO of a troubled multinational company running from one emergency to the next; but I truly hope few of my readers think like this. What I think most of them will believe is that the Pontiff just doesn’t have much in common with Beethoven, considers beauty a kind of luxury, doesn’t really care much for rules and when he has no fancy to show up at a concert he just avoids it; not out of wilful discourtesy, mind, but of a semi-socialist, philistine mentality according to which a classical music concert is a pastime for the bourgeoisie, and his attendance to it more or less inappropriate whilst the favelas suffer poverty.
Remember, this is a man staging Pinocchio masses. Beauty must be a rather foreign concept to him. He doesn’t see beauty, he sees luxury and pomp.
My impression is that the time of the easy popularity is rapidly going to an end. Three months ago, most mainstream bloggers would have fawned about the Pope, the new buddy of the poor, shunning the luxury of a Beethoven concert because he is so far away from all these unnecessary frills, and so hard working for peace ‘n justice; now that people start to think clearly, all the limits of this quest for popular gestures – certainly fed by a lack of cultural depth – start to show up, and it hurts.
If you ask me, this Pope must still learn his job, in the sense that he seems not to have grasped – another sign of mediocre intelligence, or humble arrogance – what the job entails. On the contrary, he seems to think that he can behave as he pleases, rules aren’t so important, people fuss too much about immaterial things, and provided he is concerned for the poor he will be fine.
I am afraid he will learn the lesson the hard way.
Stellar blog post from David Werling on Ars Orandi about Pretty Pictures and Pious Pelagians.
Besides examining the attitude of the last two Popes concerning the new trendy word, Pelagian - a word used very appropriately by Pope Benedict, whilst Pope Francis gives the idea of simply repeating words he has heard or read somewhere -, this excellent article touches an extremely valid point: the V II “spontaneous”, vague, fluffy, tofu spirituality (yes, the one lived and promoted by Pope Francis) puts upside down the very concept of living and practicing the Catholic Faith.
There are other themes that lead one to a rather worrying reflection (like the separation between the love for the “pretty pictures” from the love from the Truth they represent and should inflame one for; or the brutal, but so true statement of the one who would never allow the Pontiff to teach religion to his children; a very sad fact whose reality is in front of our eyes every day).
Still, what impressed me most is this convincing portrayal of modern Catholicism, in which devout Catholics are considered wrong for being thorough, for taking Catholicism seriously, and for counting their rosaries.
I will not say more, because I could not make justice to the author. You can do much worse than invest the time to follow the link.