Francis Then And Now
In happier and more hopeful times, when the horror of Bergoglism had not shown itself to the world with all the arrogance of humility, yours truly and many others had a reasonable hope that the new Pontiff would have been reasonably conservative. Yes, it was clear it had a penchant for very public shows of humility, and it was evident the rhetoric of poverty would have been in his menu du jour pretty much every day. But we thought it would have been not much worse in the end than a Ratzinger with the addition of a bus ticket and a wheelchair. The Pinocchio Mass was clearly worrying stuff, but one hoped (for the record: I don’t anymore) that once become Pope the man would understand the implications of his new role.
This short introduction will help you to understand my comments to one of Francis’ off-the-cuff homilies. In it, Francis tell us what kind of Pope he plans to be.
Do not believe me for that. Let Francis himself talk. The emphases are from the original translation.
“How’s our faith? Is it strong? Or is it sometimes a bit superficial? (all’acqua di rose – “like rose water”, meaning banal, an insufficient substitute, shallow, inadequate)” When difficulties come, “are we courageous like Peter or a little lukewarm?” Peter – he pointed out– didn’t stay silent about the Faith, he din’t descend to compromises, because “the Faith isn’t negotiable.” “There has been, throughout history of the people, this temptation: to chop a piece off the Faith”, the temptation to be a bit “like everyone else does”, the temptation “not to be so very rigid”. “But when we start to cut down the Faith, to negotiate Faith, a little like selling it to the highest bidder”, he stressed, “we take the path of apostasy, of disloyalty to the Lord.”
If you click the link and go on my comment of that time, you will see a clear description of what Francis’ words meant, and some reflections on the various ways in which it would be possible to him to use the principles he had just enunciated. Faithful, hopeful stuff.
In those early days, there was no need to let the words of the Pontiff go under the microscope to see whether he really meant what he had just said. Particularly on this occasion, I do not remember any uncertainty from anyone anywhere.Strangely enough, when a Pope expresses himself in a clear and orthodox way, no contortionism is necessary.
Again, the points clearly were:
1. The faith isn’t negotiable.
2. This means it must be told whole.
3. There will always be the temptation to accommodate and choose comfort and popularity, but
4. we must choose to be rigid and, consequently, hated,
5. because otherwise apostasy can’t be far away.
Fast forward to pretty much six months later, and I notice Francis has, in all this time, done exactly the contrary of all that he preached.
1. He has clearly indicated the faith is not only negotiable, but optional. Do we have to convert? No! No! No! Proselytism is nonsense, & Co.
2. He always “forgets” to mention anything Catholic when he talks about Catholicism. he states that Jesus “saved us”, but then he forgets to “explain” it isn’t so. Atheist can follow their conscience, he says to them, but then he forgets to tell them this is not the case, & Co.
3. As to the “temptation to accommodate and choose comfort and popularity”, it is fair to say Francis is the walking, talking, child-kissing, wheelchair-embracing, Renault 4-driving incarnation of his own words. He has, in fact, brought the very concept to a new high (or, well, low). The pieces of the faith he has chopped away are, well, pretty much all of them.
4. Rigidity has been explicitly rejected by him. Rigidity is, by default, narrow-minded. We must not “obsess” about abortion and sexual morals, for example. Besides, we must not make ourselves hated, because it alienates people. It would, in fact, be a catastrophe for us if we did.
5.The very concept of “apostasy” has become very blurred in one to whom not even atheism is a problem, and who does not feel any need to actively exert himself to change one’s atheism. I remember him comparing those who count rosaries to heretics, though. Perhaps he meant that.
One wonders: has Pope Francis changed his mind about his reign after this little sermon, or was he a Jesuit from day one and was simply talking like one, saying to the audience of the day what would make him popular with that particular audience? How is it that when he talks with atheists he sounds like one, and when he talks with clergymen he sounds (almost, and in parts) like one?
Francis is always on all sides at the same time, so no one can say he is not “pastoral” to them. This is called “running with the hare and hunting with the hounds”, and Jesuits take it with their mother’s milk. Not quite like Peter, I dare say.
Other bloggers will certainly disagree, but I have seen in him no trace, none whatsoever, of all the beautiful virtues Francis says both we and he must have. On the contrary, I have seen in him an attitude that is not only “all’acqua di rose”, but so publicly and shamelessly yielding to the “temptation to accommodate and choose comfort and popularity” that not even blatant heresy is an obstacle to his boundless desire for approbation, and it becomes more and more difficult to attribute even a modicum of good faith to his actions. His much-vaunted humbleness looks like a monstrous self-centredness to me, one that has put him straight on the way to damnation. As I write, a numerous and ever crescent number of blogs of all types openly cry “heresy”, or at least “shame”.
They know why. They can read. Words have a meaning.
“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good” sounds rather different from “Peter didn’t stay silent about the Faith, he didn’t descend to compromises, because “the Faith isn’t negotiable”, doesn’t it now?
No, no verbal yoga exercises now, please. I prefer the beauty and clarity of the English language.
This is where we are. But hey, this is what happens if you elect a Jesuit as Pope.