Daily Archives: November 25, 2014
Rorate Caeli has a blog post about not one, but two events which very much give a picture of the times.
1) Francis’ visit to Strasbourg is barely noticed. Empty street where once oceanic masses would, everywhere, be a witness to the event of a papal visit. This, by the by, before and after his visit to the cathedral of Francis’ religion: the dratted European Parliament.
2) The complete un-Catholic character of the visit. Nothing Catholic was on the agenda. Not a meeting with faithful, not the visit of a parish; not even a visit to the wonderful Cathedral in Strasbourg.
As to 1), I can’t avoid thinking that the Argentinian children are going home to roost. The utter banality of this man was entertainng at the beginning, because a Pope making a clown of himself will attract the attention for a while. But at some point the novelty will fade away, and what remains there is simply a clown. People don’t wait for hours in the cold to greet a clown, and say “I was there when the Clown visited, and greeted him as he drove by! How solemn, sovereign, saintly he looked!”.
Pope Clown was good entertainment for a while. Now he will sink into second-row “celebrity” status.
As to 2), this reminds me of the episode in Caserta, where Francis went to meet his Proddie friends without, initially, planning anything concerning those obnoxious Catholics. In Caserta, though, he was persuaded to change his mind in the end. Here, it appears he was determined to have it his own way, and Catholics can get stuffed.
The Pope goes abroad, and doesn’t even visit a Church. The world is his only concern. A stage for his stupid rhetoric, and a place among the Great Statesmen. Forget the Cathedral. Visit the Parliament.
The Pope goes abroad, and the faithful don’t care. If they want to see a clown, a circus visit is more convenient. Forget the Pope. There’s better and more comfortable entertainment everywhere.
As I have recently stated: if you are a Catholic, Francis hates you. You are not even an afterthought. No, you will be openly snubbed instead. Because this is what Francis is.
This man will snub a Cathedral in the same way as he snubs Christ before the altar. But he will visit a Parliament with the same enthusiasm with which he genuflects to wash the feet of women and infidels.
Start seeing reality for what it is and you will see more and more signs of this. You will see that in this perspective, everything Francis does makes perfect sense.
So what do we have? A Pope slowly sinking into irrelevance among the heathenish masses, and slowly but certainly despised by more and more Catholics. A Pope playing Social Warrior, and now slowly noticing the world has had enough of “Pope Che” already. A Pope sinking into ridicule as he tries to profile himself as anything but a Pope, rather he wants to be a sort of Global Advocate For The Poor. Gee, Eugenio Scalfari will be so pleased…
This will go on. Francis’ antics will become more and more trite. Bigger and bigger doses of “novelty” will be required to focus the attention on the Humble Pope. If these doses come, he will be at war with Catholocs the world over. If they don’t, he will be forgotten.
This cannot end well; but whether Francis understands the dynamics currently at play is to be seen. Never underestimate the damage that can be caused by a nincompoop believing he is a great mind.
I never understood the motto “keep your friends close and your enemy closer”, and I always thought that it does not make sense. I always had the impression it is the favourite excuse of those who do not have the guts to keep their enemies away from positions of power and influence, and want to let necessity appear virtue.
Of course it may make sense, in a democracy, for a President or Prime Minister to have people he dislikes in his cabinet. In this way, they are invested in his government, and will find it more difficult to attack him from a position of “allies”. But even in this case, such a policy is born of the necessity of limiting their ability to disrupt the work of the Government, and is invariably linked with a delegation of power and influence to them. All this is, in a word, not the fruit of brilliant thinking, but the unavoidable consequence of the atomisation of power in every modern Democracy.
Not so for a Pope. A Pope does not need to be elected. If he is orthodox, he will always float above every accusation of being “harsh” or “merciless”. His prestige and grasp on power will be, in time, greatly enhanced. Pope Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII are great examples of this strong, but in the end winning attitude.
Francis is in a different boat. He is also Pope, but he has put himself in such a mess that his papacy can now be very seriously damaged; because of this, even as a Pope Francis must pay much attention to thread carefully, lest he should one day lose not only his face, but possibly his very job. In October, Francis got a first glimpse of what trouble might be in store for him if he were to be really stupid. Since October, the criticism has not really abated. He can't completely isolate himself from his enemies, because all of his enemies are Catholic, and none of his friends are. An orthodox Pope can afford to be uncaring of tactics (Pius X was famously undiplomatic), but a Pope like Francis cannot.
Francis would, like everyone else, keep the Sarahs away and surround himself exclusively with the likes of Ricca, Forte, and Baldisseri. If he does not do it it's not because he is a superior mind or a refined strategist, but because at this point the rare Sarah is, to him, the better evil.
Keep your enemies as far as you can, and smile at those you are forced to keep near. This, I think, pretty much sums it up.
Some good news for a change. Cardinal Sarah – the outspoken defender of the Sacrament of Communion and of Catholic teaching about sexual perversion – has been appointed head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (note the last words well). As V II Cardinals go, Sarah is certainly orthodox and conservative, i.e. Catholic.
Thankfully, I have not noticed anyone (up to now) trying to persuade us that this appointments shows that Francis is A Good, Orthodox, Conservative Pope People Do Not Understand. That time has, I think, gone forever.
Personally, I am not ready to give the man the least shred of credibility, whomever he may appoint. The man obviously hasn't changed, so our view of the danger he represents will not change, either. Why has Francis, then, chosen Sarah, of all people, for the position? My spontaneous thoughts:
1) He needs some prestigious African prelate near him to avoid the accusation of ignoring that Continent. Therefore, he puts an African at the top of what Africans do worst: liturgy. It minimises the damage for Francis, at least. How bad Sarah is in liturgical matters is also to be seen. Tornielli seems to trust him in liturgical matters too, which is a good sign. But this here is also an anti-Kasperite in the middle of the Vatican, which can never hurt.
2) Francis wants to show that he can reward outspoken prelates, as long as they do not criticise him personally. Burke out, Sarah in. A conservative in the Curia like before, but a less uncomfortable one for Francis. For now, at least.
3) He wants to divide the anti-Kasperite fraction, sending them partly to the wilderness and partly to Rome. I do not think it will ever work; but he might think so. A genius, he ain't.
4) He has given up on his revolutionary project. He is old, and it has become clear to him he will not be able to attempt any “revolution” without a huge, long conflict; a conflict which would doom his papacy for all centuries to come. He will continue to talk rubbish, of course; but no revolution. This seems to me, for the moment, only a possibility; but I do not consider it such a remote one.
Old, he is. Hypocrite, he is. Vain, he most certainly is. This one isn't the born and bred ideologue, the hero uncaring of the consequences, the Che Guevara of doctrinal demolition. This one is… a Jesuit. He will be strong with the weak and weak with the strong with the same easiness with which you breathe.
Time will tell. Let us not get too enthusiastic. The one in power is still TMAHICH. But he is clearly in the defensive now.
Today, we did get some good news. I cannot imagine any way in which bringing Sarah in can be seen as a sign of Francis' strength. No, it is a sign of Francis' weakness. He must appease the Catholics, lest he ends like the turkey at thanksgiving. He must bring in some African. He must give signals of normality. The bombardment of criticism since the Synod has not ceased, and in the meantime even the readers of the “Huffington Post” know he has put himself in a lot of trouble.
At the Synod, Francis has taken a pump gun and has shot himself in the leg. He is now trying to regain the face he has lost. It won't be easy.
It's too soon to say that Francis has thrown in the towel. But it is certainly enough to say that he is under great pressure, and must now act to avoid that the pressure becomes intolerable.