Canonisations On Earth: Meet The Pope Ultras
I found in my comment box this excellent comment from Anita O.P.
I can see why people would rather that Francis be an antipope. For one thing, they have a faulty understanding of the scope of a Pope’s authority. Some people think, wrongly, that we are bound to obey a Pope even when he orders us to do something evil, and therefore Jesus would never allow someone to be Pope who would do such a thing. For another, it would be more comforting to think a bad Pope is no Pope at all than to acknowledge that a true Pope can be bad.
But: Francis is the true Pope. He is a typical cleric of his generation: mean, nasty, brutal, vulgar, and contemptuous of all things Catholic. The hierarchy is chock-a-block with guys like him. It was only ever a matter of time until one of them got his kiester onto the Throne of Peter.
This comment is so right, because it photographs a reality that I have seen, from a distance, for many years now, and which was unknown to me until I started reading the blogosphere in the English language: the canonisation on earth of the pope.
This mentality existed, when I was growing up in Italy, only among the peasants, and I am pretty sure even they had their doubts. Whilst the popes were treated with great reverence, they were not considered endowed with any superpower. I was informed about the boundaries of papal infallibility in elementary school; therefore, all Italians of my age were.
I think that there is some perverse mind process at play here. Countless Protestants grew up listening to the tired criticism of their own against Catholics: that Catholics consider the pope “God on earth” and therefore omnipotent, omniscient, and always right. When they converted to Catholicism, they took some of this into their conversion, thinking that their allegiance to Catholicism meant embracing a concept of papal authority that is, actually, not at all Catholic.
In addition, Anglo-Saxon people are, it seems to me, not accustomed to the nuances of the language of traditionally Catholic Countries; a language that makes a much bigger use of hyperbole and, in general, loves powerful images and colourful expressions, but where there is no expectation that these expression and images are taken literally; which, alas, Anglo-Saxons (perhaps ruined by decades of sola scriptura-obsession with words) tend to do a lot.
When I came to England, I discovered that everyday Italian expressions were considered contrary to the second commandment by… Catholics! Lookey here, pal: if one of the most traditionally Catholic Countries on earth puts the word “damned” (as in: damned this, damned that) even in movies for children, and with the censorship office firing on all cylinders, perhaps you should stop and think!
The same mentality is at work concerning the pope. Some convert reads about the pope called “the sweet Peter on earth” and thinks, being a Northerner, that this is what a Pope is, every single time, and no questions asked. Then, when he is confronted with an evil clown like Francis, his head explodes as he wakes up every morning with “sweet Peter on earth” talking like “bitter Satan in hell”.
In fact, I had a woman, once, writing a comment in my box along the lines of: “Mundabor, how can you write such things? Don’t you know that the pope is sweet Peter on earth?”. I think she was a convert.
The second observation of Anita is also completely spot on. The exaggerated role attributed to the papacy sees all these people (many of them Anglos, and many among them certainly converts), twist themselves into a pretzel in order to decide that Francis is not the pope. This is another case of exploding heads, but resolved with a total escape from reality; a reality which, at that point, becomes inexplicable. Meanwhile, Italians read about the corruption of the papacy (which, in Italian history, happens every two and a half steps) and go to church to take part in the novena, without as much as a peep.
Last example: I remember once reading a comment on Father Z’s site, where a reader (in good faith, of course) asked whether it is allowed, on days of abstinence, to eat a certain sauce, which had a certain ingredient with a certain colouring that might have contained minuscule animals which are, in fact, meat. The guy was serious. Father Z answered politely inviting the guy to recover his sanity. I thought this was another result of the combination of Protestant rigidity and conversion to Catholicism.
The last point I also found absolutely correct. People like me, who don’t believe that the Pope has ecstasies upon being elected, saw this coming from far away. One pope starts the process of aggiornamento, the next one does not want a tiara, another one stages ecumenical crap in Assisi, his follower calls Agnostics “seekers”. At some point, this had to happen. Perhaps not so soon and not so harsh, but the direction was clear. Reflect on this: even the allegedly oh so rigid JP II was trying to abolish the death penalty without saying it.
The rot has been deep, and festering, for decades.