We all know conversion may happen to anyone. It can be the result of a slow and gradual process, as in the case of the commenter of this blog who stopped to examine the simple perfection of a flower, and decided it could not have been the result of “coincidence”. Or it can be the result of a traumatic or painful event in one's life, which leads one to at least accept that there is a God: the death of Mussolini's brother, or of Putin's mother, come to mind.
When the conversion is, so to speak,fully successful, it changes one's entire outlook. In the already mentioned novel “The Betrothed”, the character known as the Innominato already has nagging doubts, and a sense of uneasiness with his evil and godless life that gnaws at him with irregular, but increasing force. The big crisis – and the providential conversion – of the Innominato is, however, precipitated by the contact with the purity, and the pure faith, of Lucia, the simple heroine of the novel and the woman he has accepted to have ravaged, and ruined.
A strong event, in instalments or not, will be normally required for one to see the light. A strong event will, I presume, also be required to lose it. not that this justifies it, but at least it gives one one key to understand what went on. I once watched on TV a man candidly admit he lost his faith following the death of his child daughter. Terribly wrong, of course; but you get my drift…
I do not think a man of strong faith ever slipped out of the faith inadvertently, one bit at a time. If your faith is strong, it is as strong and as luminous as the Sun. You simply don't forget the existence of the sun. It's just there. The evidence of things not seen. This is the faith; a grace given – thankfully – even to wretched sinners like your humble correspondent.
Why do I tell you old this?
Because whenever I see a prelate going head on against the Magisterium, it is very difficult for me to believe that he might just have slowly, imperceptibly changed, a millimetre at a time, until he became the contrary of what he once was.
No. I believe that when a prelate gives such a spectacle of itself he either never had the faith – the most probable case, if you ask me – or, far more rarely, some cataclysmic event led him to culpably lose it, with the sudden, massive assault of Satan being more than he can muster. The man thought he was guarded, but he wasn't. He felt safe in his conviction, but they weren't very strong. Perhaps he had not amply considered that only God's Grace allows him to remain on the right side anyway.
I simply do not believe in falling into heresy just through slow attrition. Too strong must the defence of sound faith be for that; and if it isn't, then it probably never was.
Why I say this? Because it seems to me that we are confronted with a generation of heretical prelates so numerous in number, and so aggressive in thinking, that I cannot believe all these people were, so to speak, emotionally earthquaked by some horrible circumstance in their life. No. What seems very probable to me is that the Church has been breeding a brood of vipers for decades now; people who never had a sound faith or a sound vocation, saw their role as the one of provider of people's emotional – as opposed to spiritual – needs, and were content to masquerade their unfaithfulness to Christ behind a lip service to the Church as they transformed more and more into social workers. In Francis they see one of them in power, and push to make him transform the Church in the direction they always wanted to have it: away from Christ, but near to “the people”; that is, the world.
Have we ever had signs of strong faith in, say, Jorge Bergoglio? Can we recognise in his life a phase of strong Catholic convictions, then mysteriously disappeared? I can't. Rather, what I see is the coherent picture of a man who never gave a straw, but played his cards well.
We know that he smoked pot; that he loved and still loves tango; that he stole a crucifix from a corpse in its coffin and even as Pope has the effrontery to brag about it; and, last but not least, that he consorts with perverts. He admits some of these things – including the pot, but don't forget the stealing from the dead – en passant as if they were minor incidents; or even great feats, fully to be expected in the life of your average Pope. Is this the stuff of priests?
Francis truly makes the impression of one whose biggest credit to orthodoxy is not to have married the line of the most fanatical proto communists within his orders; which firstly is no merit at all, and secondly would have put him in Rome's blacklist post haste; something a prudent man like him would not do anyway. Was he even known for the passionate defence of Catholicism? Did his sermons ever inflate his sheep? Do we have any sign of assertive, faithful apostolate? I can't find any.
I wouldn't be surprised if the same could be said of the Kasper and Marx, Voelki and Nichols, Murphy O'Connor, Dolan and Mahony of the world. I wouldn't be surprised if they all had all this in common: that they never even had a strong faith to lose, and perhaps some of them nevervhad any faith at all.
A Cardinal (and much more a Pope) advocating communion for adulterers cannot simply have forgotten the basics. He cannot have just “slipped” into the very contrary of what he believed. These things don't just “happen”. Shall we believe that an army of bishops and cardinals just “happened” to side with the world?
I don't buy it. I think in very many cases there was no conversion, no problem with lying, no identification with the Church, no fear of the Lord, or even no faith at all to begin with.
This, I think, is the most logical explanation for the Marxes and Kaspers, or for the Bergoglios of our time.
Right doesn't just slip into wrong.