Cardinal Tettamanzi is not among us anymore. Where he is, God knows. However, there is something that even we can know.
If Catholicism is true, everyone who dies unrepentant of wilful grave sin goes to hell. The metre for what is sin does not reside in his own conscience, but in the Truth that God established. Therefore, believing ourselves the most ardent followers of the Lord will be of no avail to us, if our actions and our entire ideology go against this Truth and, therefore, against Our Lord. Methinks, Luther might have died believing himself the greatest Christian since St Paul. You know where he is now if he did.
Cardinal Tettamanzi is a prominent (both because a Cardinal, and because of his own particular sins) representative of the generation that betrayed the faithful in the most cynical way since the Church was founded. Whether he considered himself “charitable” is neither here nor there now. Whether he adhered to and defended the Truth is – unless he seriously repented before death – everything that counts.
You could put it in a more cynical way and say that if God allows a generation of traitors, opportunists, cowards and outright sellouts to save themselves en masse, then Francis is not far from the Truth; he is, in fact, much nearer to it than all those generations of Catholics warning us of Hell since time immemorial. If even the greatest generation of traitors ever to sell their faithful leads to almost general salvation, we as normal pewsitter are really, really safe and hell does not need to bother anyone whose nickname is not “Stalin”.
However, we know from the teaching of time immemorial that we, the normal pewsitter, are not safe at all. Therefore, the likes of Tettamanzi must be in the greatest danger of eternal damnation, all of them, to the last slimy traitor.
Even among the bad, Tettamanzi was one of the worst. The successor of Martini in Milan, he was the more cautious version of his predecessor, a bit like a strong poison diluted in water. His leftist leanings were so obvious that Comunione e Liberazione (a then powerful, wannabe Conservative organisation) could not stand the man. He was invited to the Sham Synods even if above the standard age of 80, and punctually leant his support to sacrilegious communion for adulterers. The picture is clear then: another sellout and Judas of the worst sort.
Do I wish him salvation? Individually, poor bastard, I do. But he belongs to a group at very great risk of salvation, so we only need to switch our brains on to know that the probability of damnation of the likes of him is very high.
Unless, that is, Catholicism has lied to us for 2,000 years…
and Francis is right.