Francis Über Alles
And it came to pass Francis did it again, regaling us with another full-blown liturgical abuse for all the world to see.
This year is, though, even worse than last year. Because if last year one could have said – making a big effort in optimism – that Francis did not have the time to change the liturgical rules, this year we know that he really doesn't give a straw for rules, at all.
The message here is twice subversive because the deliberation and subversive attitude are twice as evident. One year of time to avoid a new liturgical abuse, and the same outcome as last year.
What is Francis saying with his attitude? He is saying that rules don't count; they don't really much count for anyone (¡vaya lío!), but they particularly don't count for him, because he smells of the sheep and is therefore above such minutiae as adhering to rules meant to protect the sacredness and reverence of the liturgy.
Nothing, for Francis, is made for Christ. His gaze is intently fixed here below; as a consequence, whatever pushes his secular agenda – like the new gospel of inclusiveness and new non-evangelisation – must perforce take precedence over any rule concerning something so ultimately irrelevant as Heaven; where everyone is forgiven, and everyone is going to go anyway in the end.
But Francis' main message is probably not the invitation to disobedience, but rather the renewed stressing of his own Very Specially Humble status. It is obvious by now that in his world there is no space for basic humility, or obedience. He arrogantly proclaims himself above the law, and above the law in a way that goes beyond the mere exercise of power – he could have done so by changing the liturgical rules concerning the viri probati – and clearly becomes the banner of his own alleged uniqueness as the Truly Wonderful New Type Of Humble Pontiff. This is not a Pope saying to us he will use his papal prerogatives. This is a Pope saying to us he is so special, so different and so much better than his predecessors, that he does not even need to care about exercising them.
Ipse fecit. Therefore, it must be fine.
This attitude is not only arrogant, but also convenient. If Francis had changed the liturgical rules concerning the washing of the feet such a choir of protests would have ensued, that he would have been shamed by the community of sound theologians and canonists the world over. His obvious betrayal of the real meaning of the ceremony would have been denied not only in the behaviour, but in the very law. He clearly did not want it, at least for now. He prefers the easy worldwide publicity, but without having to officially take a stance, and defend it against the opinion of his predecessors.
Finally, I allow myself to add a last observation: this man is, fundamentally, what in Italy we call cafone: a boor. Boors do not waste much time thinking of rules. They are wired differently, or better said they lack that kind of wiring that causes one to appreciate the proper way of doing things. Francis shows all the symptoms of the type. Remember the empty chair at the Beethoven concert? That was Francis at his most authentic. Francis does not care for rules of proper behaviour – liturgical, or otherwise – because he is, literally, below caring.
Francis cares for his own image first, second and third, and only after that for his own particular way of social revanchism with the excuse of Christ. He is above the rules, above any of his predecessors, above Doctrine, and very often above basic decency. He calls himself “bishop”, but shows an arrogance unknown to his predecessors of the recent centuries. He is the metre of everything, hovers about every rule – even his own – and does not care a straw about the scandal he gives.
Francis über alles. As seen, for the second time, on Maundy Thursday.