“[…]tra un mese Anonimidellacroce sarà in grado di pubblicare il contenuto della lettera fatidica che Benedetto ricevette prima di decidere di dimettersi”.
“In a month, AnonymousoftheCross will be able to publish the content of the fateful letter Benedict received before deciding to resign”
The bomb was published here. More to come in a month (means: after Easter? Or literally during Holy Week?). The motives of Benedict’s abdication were allegedly a) very serious and b) nothing to do with his health.
Yours truly reads, and reflect as follows:
- I have always thought Benedict a decent man. Therefore, I have always believed his words, that his resignation was due to his feeling he was not strong enough to keep being an effective Pope. I think we owe the man, as every man we believe decent, to believe what he says until the contrary is proven.
- I will wait to see whether something really gets published, and really confirms Benedict decided to resign because of external pressure. If it turns out Benedict is a liar (and, inevitably, a coward of stellar proportions), this is the reality we will have to live with. My estimation of the man took a decided turn south when he gave the gushing FrancisInterviews anyway. However, I greatly hesitate in believing that he could be such a horrible person.
- If it turns out Benedict was put under pressure to resign, do not think for a moment this justifies the old man, no matter what caused the abdication. There is no universe in which the resignation of a Pope because of external pressure cannot be an act of immense cowardice. It is inconceivable that, say, Pius XII would have resigned if Stalin had said to him: “either you abdicate or I start a nuclear war”. A Pope must never be strong-armed, full stop. Nor does the Church recognise the idea of a Pope resigning because he embraces some “lesser evil” to avoid a bigger one. The idea that Benedict might have resigned to protect himself I do not even want to entertain.
- If it turns out Benedict was put under pressure, I will leave it to expert theologians to decide what happens next. However, it seems difficult to me to deny that the decision of Benedict was, in any way, voluntary. It is, also, what the man explicitly stated. If a Pope abdicates because he is a coward my first take is that he has still abdicated, and he is still a coward. To my knowledge, there is no provision that says that if the Pope is a coward, the next Pope can’t be validly elected. If this were the case, we would have the rather problematic possibility that the last, say, 203 Popes were invalidly elected and we never knew it.We live in the Age Of The Kitten. An age in which people like Cardinal Burke are considered courageous. We must cope with the fact that our clergy are a bunch of girls, Popes possibly included. But this does not mean that the entire institution of the Papacy is put into question.
- It can still be that nothing comes out of this. “Fra’ Cristoforo” clearly wasn’t there, and he might not have seen the letter he mentions. Even the best can be deceived.
- Don’t be distressed. Bad Popes are a constant fixture of the Church. Many Popes in the past have been put under pressure to condemn and destroy good people or institutions (Joan of Arc and the Knight Templars come to mind). The Church has survived.
In what horribly entertaining times it was given us to live…!
In case you should think that when all it's said and done Francis' Pontificate will leave behind only a huge amount of senseless waffle, you can change your mind now.
Francis is aggressively promoting his agenda through episcopal appointments. After Chicago, San Diego is now getting an excuse of a bishop, promoted to a successor of the Apostles because he wants to undermine them.
Robert McElroy is a social justice warrior; his main care is “income inequality”, not the salvation of souls; after his theology studies he got his doctorate in political science. Whether this speaks of a strong faith I leave it to you to decide. And he is obviously not a friend of the Traditional Latin Mass.
It angers me, it angers me no end that when we get a generally conservative Pope he will mostly make bad appointments to appease the progressives, and when we get the progressive Pope he proceeds to promote the worst people without any qualm.
Conservative prelates must stop being sissies. There is no value in helping the enemies of Christ. If a climate of loud opposition to Francis is created by Cardinals, priests and bishops, the appointment of bad bishops will be at least more difficult, because Francis sniffs the air like an Irish Setter for every whiff of massive opposition.
I did not expect a Pope like Benedict to promote Catholic hardliners, because he never was one himself. But the appointment of solidly Catholic bishops, without exceptions, should have been expected from a Pope who knows where the Truth lies.
May God forgive Benedict for his lack of decisiveness and bite. Eight years down the drain. What a chance, and what a waste. Who knows when the next chance will arise.
Not everyone is born to be a leader. Some are born to be generals, some are born to be soldiers, some are born to be thinkers, some are born to be, well, idiots.
Pope Benedict never had the stuff of the doer. He had even less the stuff of the leader. A man inclined to reflection and theoretical elaboration, he never showed that kind of energy that leads men to be relentlessly driven toward a goal, and completely focused on the practical task at hand. He also never had that kind of charisma, the quiet but solid authority that leads poets to say “oh captain! my captain!” to him. Benedict never was much of a captain, and Whitman would not have been terribly impressed.
His activity as Pontiff clearly shows the poor practical record. A man of words rather than actions, Benedict never had the will or energy to give his papacy the required bite. He gave us Summorum Pontificum, and then watched as it was ignored in the Third World and actively boycotted in much of the West. His episcopal appointments show a high degree of naïveté, weakness, or simply lack of interest in the extremely delicate task of appointing the men who run the Church. But he was happy with writing books, even as he was appointing almost half the Cardinals that would give us Bergoglio as his successor.
The lack of authority reached disquieting proportions when the world discovered that even his butler thought that Benedict had to be, in some way, protected from the people around him. No, this is not the stuff of a leader, and the request that the faithful pray for him, that he may not flee before the wolves, showed in time to be a tad more concrete than the somewhat coquettish remark of an old man faced with a great responsibility. Benedict was simply not born a wolf fighter.
The apex of both this naïveté and this lack of leadership was shown in the most dramatic way – though it became apparent only later – on the 11 February 2013. A weak and undecisive man, not endowed with the stuff of leaders in his strongest days, Benedict possibly felt overwhelmed by the 300 pages report about homosexuality within the Church; a report which very obviously sent him the message that it was now time to wear the armor, and go to war. This is when Benedict’s mistakes catch up with him, and they will now plague his existence for the rest of his days.
Benedict felt – rightly, I think – that he was not up to the task. It is difficult to wage war against the homo Mafia when not even your butler has any esteem in your qualities as leader. One cannot, as the Germans say, jump over his shadow, and very few are the men who experience a dramatic change in character and attitude at 83. His decision to resign is, in my eyes, fully understandable in a man who saw a task in front of him for which he had neither the attitude nor the energy, and for which he felt – or so it seems to me – that the Church he loves needed a far more suitable man than himself.
But the bigger mistake was not that. If Benedict had done his job properly in the appointment of Cardinals and Bishops he could have resigned with the knowledge – as opposed to the naive illusion – that his successor would have had the orthodoxy for the good fight, and the cojones to fight it. Then it would all have made sense. But nothing went as he was certainly planning.
Benedict’s biggest mistake was to think that he had prepared a Conclave fit for electing someone who would continue his work; and that he could therefore retire in good conscience, after almost eight years at the helm, because now simply too weak and too old to be a good helmsman.
Benedict’s failure of judgment in his appointments unluckily combined in a huge failure of judgment concerning his Cardinals and, as a result, his successor. Never a lion, the man was evidently also rather easily duped. Not a good quality in a Pope, however many books he can write.
I do not believe for a second that he was forced to resign, as lack of leadership quality does not a coward make. I truly believe that the man believes in God, and would die rather than cave in to the Church’s enemies. I find the idea that he would simply allow to be bullied aside extremely insulting to the man.
But that this gentle soul was not fit to look at men in the proper light, and was ultimately unable to understand where he was steering the Church, this seems blatantly obvious to me.
Soon it will be two years from that fateful day, the day that plunged the Church from the frying pan of rampant neo-Modernism and sexual perversion into the fire of open, shameless heresy and celebration of the very perversion this papacy was supposed to fight against.
The gentle, undecisive, naive man is still alive. He is far too loyal to say it, but he must now feel that his survival is his punishment. I doubt he thought, when he resigned, that he had another two years to live. But the man must be stunned, and horrified, at thinking what his pontificate has resulted to in the end: an attempt at hostile takeover from Satan himself.
Pray for Benedict; a kind, gentle man of thought and prayer who did not have the stuff of which effective Popes are made.
There has been some discussion about the behaviour of some Cardinals who might have conspired to deceive Pope Benedict into believing that, in case of abdication, a successor able to continue on his line would have been picked. Rorate has some reflection, but they are not the only ones.
It is, in my eyes, inconceivable that Benedict would choose to abdicate whilst still able to function, but without a funded hope that the Cardinals would pick a, say, Benedict XVII. No, of course he thought that his abdication would further, not thwart, his work. To think otherwise is to imagine a man so selfishly absorbed in his own desires that he does not care of what happens to the Church after him, provided he can write his books. This is, in my eyes, almost as absurd – and almost as offensive – as to think that Benedict could have been cowed into the abdication by any threat whatsoever.
Still, I would like to make a couple of consideration.
1. If Benedict was more or less assured that things were “fine” and decided to abdicate on the strength of this confidential knowledge, in what is this different from the “canvassing” so lamented when Cardinal Murphy O'Connor would be the one guilty of it? I am not talking of “pacts” or “agreements” here, but of several people observing with Benedict how sound, dependable, through and through papabile – say – Cardinal Scola is. Is, then, a Pope abdicating on the strength of such “canvassing” not guilty of the same behaviour? Mind, I do not think such “canvassing” is there in the first place. I merely say that if you condemn Murphy O'Connor, it's difficult to see how, in this scenario, you should not condemn Ratzinger.
2. If the scenario is true, then Benedict would prove a further disappointment. It would mean that he could be gulled into a false sense of security not only in the weeks or months preceding his abdication, but actually since his ascendancy to the Throne; because in order to commit a mistake of that magnitude Benedict must have been a bad judge of the character of many Cardinals for many years. He must, in other words, have been blind to the character of many trusted people in his entourage, and of many of the very Cardinals he has himself appointed.
I am not in the mind of the Pope Emeritus. I will never know whether he – without any suggestions from outside – simple made the decision that the time was right and the Cardinals sound enough; or whether he was perhaps thinking of waiting another Consistory or two – to be used wisely – before proceeding to his historical step, and was then reassured from the noises and hunches he heard around him that no, everything was fine and he could abdicate assured of a happy ending.
In both cases, Benedict must feel a horrible burden on his soul, because it must be clear to him that it was his “middle of the road” (or so he thought) appointments that made Bergoglio's election possible in the first place.
JPII's Conclave didn't pick Bergoglio. It picked Ratzinger. Cardinal Ratzinger was there, and was therefore very aware of the role played by the Bergoglio candidature. If he had appointed better Cardinals, he would now not be forced to witness the demolition of his work, and the utter shame in which Bergoglio is dragging the very institution of the Papacy. It must be very sad, for a Pope, to outlive his own mistakes, and have them stare at him in the face every day.
Pope Benedict was the tragic, if involuntary enabler of all that has happened since that dratted evening of the 13 March 2013. Without him, ithis mess would simply not have been possible. Bergoglio's election was made possible by his multiple mistakes in the appointment of Cardinals; mistakes which, frankly, are in tune with his very mediocre episcopal appointments.
Pope Benedict has made his own bed. Whether he was “helped” in so doing does not change the fundamental drama of the man, because there isn't a big difference between being simply gullible all the time and being, in addition, double gullible in the last months of his pontificate. Which leads us to another point that I think very important.
Pope Ratzinger's tragedy is the Church's tragedy. It is the fruit of the illusion that there be, somewhere, a viable “V II road” able to serve the Church well. There isn't. A Cardinal is either solidly and unashamedly Catholic, or he is a walking booby trap. A Conclave is either full of people who really believe in God and are afraid of gravely displeasing him, or there is no way of knowing what they could be able to do. Pope Benedict knew them personally, and therefore had to know what Conclave he would leave better than every Vaticanist, or gossiper, much less blogger. Half of the Cardinals were hand-picked by him, well knowing what their future task would be.
Quisque Faber Fortunae Suae. Pope Ratzinger has, entirely with his own hands, fabricated a nightmare retirement, as he must look in astonishment at what Humble Wolf is doing to his sheep. The longer the retirement, the longer the suffering, because it is not probable at all that he will outlive Francis and, God willing, see sanity restored.
Pope Benedict has, with his historic decision, also put himself in the position of the one who must repeat to himself, every day, “what have I done?!”
Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
But the bed he made.
The always attentive reader Rhizotomos directs my attention to a blog called Public Vigil; from what I can see a soundly conservative blog, well worth the reading but exempt from, say, Sedevacantist error.
The author of the blog is kind enough to mention my little effort, and has some less than very kind, but rather intelligent, words for Pope Ratzinger and his cohort.
I will profit of these intelligent considerations to spend a couple of words on Cardinal/Pope Ratzinger, and Vatican II in general. By the by, the blog author also spends some words on the “not fooling anyone” matter; his are perfectly understandable objections, but see here and here for my thinking in the matter.
I have, in the past, compared Ratzinger to Gorbachev: a last attempt, made in good faith, to take the best out of something that is intrinsically wrong. I do not doubt in the least Cardinal/Pope Ratzinger’s good faith, but I think he applied it to the wrong cause.
Gorbachev tried to save Communism injecting in it elements of sanity, but ultimately failed because Communism is, however you tweak it, insane. Similarly, Ratzinger represents the last attempt to date to extract some “good” from something that is, when we look at it properly, entirely and irredeemably bad.
Whatever Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI later proposed to make V II “work” would work much better if V II were to be ditched altogether. The “hermeneutic of continuity” is nothing else than the attempt to beautify the Council with elements of timeless Truth; not only in the liturgy, but in the approach to Church governance, evangelisation, etc. This Truth was there before the Council. What has the council improved? Zippo. What has it damaged? Everything.
Pope Benedict’s strategy was, just like Gorbachev’s, self-defeating. If the bad of the present needs the good of the past to make it presentable, it is obvious that the exercise as a whole is not presentable. Once again: whatever was good in what Ratzinger proposed was there before V II, and there is no need of V II at all to introduce it. Actually, everything “good” that he proposed could have been done “better” by entirely ditching V II: liturgically, doctrinally, pastorally, and so on.
To make the usual, Mundaborian sexist comparison (we need more sexism around; good, old-fashioned sexism; there are two sexes, after all…) it is as if the good girl (the Church pre V II) had been substituted by a slut (the Church post V II), and Ratzinger had come to tell us that it is much better if the slut dresses modestly and adopts some ways of speaking, acting, talking, moving, and thinking from the good girl. Give me the good girl back, then, thank you very much. You are not going to fool me by asking the slut to wear the plisse’ rock and the ponytail.
V II has, as often stated in this blog, a construction defect. It is wrong in the very way it was conceived, in the very mentality it represented, and in the very attitude it spread the world over. The Council is Church Sluttishness in the most authentic sense of the word. The “treason of the true Council” is a legend, and a very naive one at that: the “Council Fathers” went back to their dioceses and accompanied the demolition of so much sound Catholicism every step of the way. Do not try to persuade me this is not what was wanted all along. Once again, this is like a premarital pregnancy: it did not “just happen”.
Summa summarum: V II is a slut. It is a slut in the way it walks, in the way it talks and, obviously, in the way it lives. Ratzinger tried to cloth sluttishness with modesty, and everyone praised how nice and chaste the ponytail looked; but look: a ponytail isn’t changing the mentality that is still there; and boy, how the mentality was still there!
The author of the blog also makes another very important consideration which, translated, means: as long as the slut is around, problems won’t be far. Or: even if we were to get a Benedict XVII after Pope Dope, the next nutcase is just a matter of time. Why? Because, to remain by the figure of speech, behaving badly is what sluts do.
When we say ( and everyone says) that Francis is “V II on steroids” we mean just this: that the disease was already there; with Francis, it has merely degenerated to a serious fever.
Who has ordained Bergoglio? JP II. “Faggot” Forte? JP II, (apparently, then Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated the Mass!).
Schoenborn? Kasper? Maradiaga? Tagle?
It’s always one of the two: either JP II or Ratzinger. The latter failed in his appointments of bishops and cardinals so parlously, that it is because of him that we are now where we are.
There is nothing good in V II, or Communism. Merely degrees of bad. What is good and sound in Communism, or in Church practice (or in the clothes and demeanour of the slut) can always be found in the original, much better form elsewhere. The Traditional Latin Mass is better than every form of Novus Ordo no matter how reverent; the sound principles of Catholic teaching will always work much better when the novelties of V II are expunged from it; pastoral work will always be more effective when sin and its punishment are mentioned, and so on.
There is nothing good in V II. Nothing to be saved. No improvement whatsoever. V II must be destroyed like it’s Carthago in 146 BC.
The “Hermenutic of burning to the ground and spreading salt over the ruins” is the only one that will solve the problem once and for all.
Don’t try to impress me with a plisse’ rock and a ponytail.
I know what is behind.
There is a Sixties’ pop song in Italy, “Non e’ Francesca”, which every Italian knows and could sing. Including, probably, newborn babies, already dead people, and people with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. The song is cruelly beautiful and its enduring popularity, now arrived at the fourth generation, is utterly deserved.
“You are mistaken”, says the singing voice (the late, but not forgotten, Lucio Battisti), “she whom you have seen is not Francesca”; and he does not want to believe that the wife he believes so true is, in fact, undoubtedly betraying him.
Why do I tell you this? Because I love my country, and the best of even its pop culture, and the wonderful sense of humanity we carry with us, shortcomings and all; and Lucio Battisti, and this particular song, is as much a part of Italy as the Colosseum, or the balcony of Palazzo Venezia.
But there is also another reason: this very song is the obvious “insider joke” (for Italians) of Antonio Socci’s book, of imminent publication, and pre-selling already very well on Amazon: “Non e’ Francesco”. His own newspaper has very recently made the surprise announcement.
In it, Socci apparently states that you are mistaken: he whom you think the Pope is not Francesco, but Benedetto.
I have already written about the Rapunzel-like fantasies of the proponents of such outlandish theories, and I will not repeat them here.
I only ask this: when Pope Benedict dies who is, pray, supposed to be the Pope? Francis is no Pope – they say – and his election invalid. If Francis should die or resign, the election of his successor would also be invalid, because effected through a number of Cardinals appointed by a non-Pope. Nor could any other rule, bar the Second Coming, offer an unquestioned, valid way of election, as every alternative method would cause division and controversy on an absolutely atrocious scale. Mind, here, that for Socci five votes instead of four in the same day suffice to invalid an election (how he can be sure of the five is another matter), so it follows that every other rule would be a far bigger deviation, and totally arbitrary, and I can’t see how a validly elected Pope can come out of it.
So: is not the consequence of Socci’s thinking a Sedevacantism in instalments? How would the proposer of the theory recover from it?
And as we are there: are we really sure the number of votes in past conclaves was always the prescribed one? Not one more, not one less? What is, therefore, if a Pope was elected in such a procedurally vitiated way? Shall he be a valid Pope merely because there was no Emeritus around? What about his own appointments? Was the successor validly elected? How so, particularly in case of a long pontificate of the “Francesco” of the day?
And let us think further: Francis dies or resigns. What then? Is Benedict Pope? How so? Will he say “I have caved in to blackmail, therefore I should be reinstated”? Seriously? Shall he be re-elected? By whom? By Cardinals appointed by non-Pope Francis?
Or, Francis dies, and Benedict says “stop dreaming, Jungs!” (He has, by the way, he has! Socci was listening to Battisti, so he missed that…). What then, skipper? Unless the Cardinals elect Benedict again and he says “I accept, but I was always Pope anyway” and proceeds to appoint as Cardinals the new ones (or deprive them of their red hat) I can’t see how this will work.
Socci has, no doubt, an answer to all this. We will have to wait for the book. I merely doubt it will be a credible one. But we shall see.
Up to then, and if you ask me, and remaining by the song pun, Socci should listen to the song again and again and repeat to himself its first three words: “ti stai sbagliando”.
You are mistaken.
The (excellent, from what I can understand) Argentinian blog “Wanderer Revisited” has this interesting picture collage about two Popes.
I am not good at Spanish, in the sense that it is only accessible to me in the way it would be to a casual Italian reader. But one certainly does not need great language skills to understand the message of this:
More and more people are opening their eyes. More will follow as October approaches.
Let us be vigilant, and let us fight against the huge tide of satanic deception coming our way.
I know it seems absurd, but apparently there are people around who think they aren't Sedevacantists because they think Benedict is the Pope. What they are, is Sedevacantists In Waiting.
Let us leave aside the absurdity of saying that Benedict is Pope when he himself says it is absurd to think so. Let us imagine Benedict has been, say, hypnotised to say so. Or they have threatened to kill his cat. Or something like that.
If Benedict is Pope and Francis isn't, the latter's appointment are invalid. Not only those of the bishops, but those of the Cardinals, too. Therefore, the next conclave will take place with a number of invalidly appointed Cardinals, and I am unable to see how from such a conclave a legitimate Pope might be elected.
Then, at some point Benedict will die, and the Benedictsedists will have to recognise that the Sea is vacant. Then, at some point, Francis will die or resign too, and the now Benedictsedevacantist will have to recognise that his successor is a bogus Pope elected by bogus Cardinals in an invalid conclave. Then at some point – actually rather fast now – all the Cardinals appointed by JP II and Benedict XVI would be above eighty and as such, according to the rule of those same Popes, would lose the right to elect a Pope. Therefore, there would be no Cardinals who can elect a Pope, no mechanism to elect new ones, and no authority that could give validity to whatever new method to elect a Pope.
We would, therefore, be in a situation of utter impasse, for which no solution can be found within Church rules that would allow to get out of it.
Mind, Popes were not always elected by Cardinals. But they were always elected in recognisable harmony with the will of their predecessors. Who could, now, say with any authority what this will is, and therefore which rules shall apply? Shall those Bishops elect the Pope, who have accepted to serve under illegitimate Popes? Who will decide Francis' bishops are to be excluded? How many pre-Francis bishops will remain in a decade or two? Shall we make a poll among pre-Francis priests, instead? Those who have deemed Francis and his successor Popes, you mean? How long until they are gone, too? Shall we elect the new Pope in a worldwide election, then? Paper poll? Internet? Who will organise it? Shall women be allowed to vote? How about those baptised by Francis' non-priests?
No, this is all absurd. So absurd in fact, that one wonders how the Benedictsedists can utter such outlandish ideas without looking three inches beyond their own nose.
Benedict has resigned. He is not the reigning Pope anymore. Volens nolens, Francis is Pope. An atrocious one, I'll give you that; but the Pope elected from largely atrocious Cardinals, selected among largely atrocious Bishops, selected among largely atrocious clergy, produced from largely atrocious seminars, ruined from a largely atrocious Council.
You can turn it and twist it as much as you like, but in the end Francis is the undeniable product of the visible Church. His legitimacy is universally recognised through all the layers of that organisation we and all our ancestors have called “the Church”. There is no way we can call a fantasy parallel reality into existence, that would declare the real reality a scam and bogus organisation. There is no way any of us can decide, whilst in a sober state, that a fake Church now commands the loyalty of all those seen the world over as Catholic Bishops, Priests, Cardinals, Popes, Deacons, and Seminarians; an entire planet showing the Cross on top of fake churches, with no Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and no valid Masses being celebrated. All this, in favour of a fantasy Church whose last Pope, Benedict, died saying he has validly resigned, and Francis is Pope.
Stop dreaming. Start thinking.
Benedictsedism is sedevacantism in waiting, and in the present situation it is just as absurd as the mainstream Sedevacantism.
The Pontiff Emeritus has officially reacted to Andrea Tornielli's recent questions about the supposed background of his resignation, and has invited to stop absurd speculations.
If you ask me, he was very right in saying a word or three, because such speculations damage the institutions of the Papacy, and we should not damage the Papacy merely because we have an atrocious Pope.
It goes without saying that the conspiracy ultras will not be satisfied with this. If one thinks the Pope was horribly blackmailed into resigning, he will believe his latest statements have the same cause as the resignation. This is the beauty, so to speak, of all conspiracy theories, whose followers are by definition able to persuade themselves of absolutely everything they wish without reality having to provide any concrete evidence of what they believe. It's all secret, you know.
Still, I rather hope reasonable and sensible people will now definitely stop every conjecture on the matter. Not to do so means to insult Benedict to the point of considering him not only cowardly enough to give in to blackmail, but outright servile in that he keeps marching towards his grave with such a weight on his conscience.
The Church does not believe in lesser evils. If a Pope is threatened with a huge scandal unless he resigns, he has the duty not to resign whatever evil may come out of the scandal. This, assuming that the unearthing of a scandal is the evil, rather than the scandalous facts themselves. A Pope can simply not accept to be strong-armed into resigning his office. Popes haven't resigned faced with Napoleon and the possible devastation of Catholicism all over Napoleonic Europe. Just imagine if a Pope should resign to avoid some sex or abuse or financial scandal.
Please let us stop this, and let us be real.
Benedict freely decided to resign. Whether we like it or not.
With ugly regularity one reads of pious Catholics all too ready to give to simple facts a meaning that goes beyond the event, and that they take as unmistakable “God's special sign”; generally, these people do not resist the temptation to give voice to their own superstition, as if their strange theories were obvious for the world to see.
Let us take a couple of examples.
The day Pope Benedict resigned, a blizzard fell on St. Peter's dome. Countless Catholics were ready to read in it a sign of the wrath of heaven. They were ready to do it, of course, because they didn't agree with Pope Benedict's decision in the first place. If I don't like the decision, the reasoning goes, it follows that God must be displeased with it. If God is displeased with it, then let us look at something that corroborates my conviction.
If Pope Benedict had excommunicated Hans Kueng on the same day instead of resigning, I wonder whether the very same lightning would have been interpreted as a sign of God's wrath for the decision.
In those days, some went to even worse extremes: every natural phenomenon of some kind – there is always a storm somewhere, and the next earthquake can't be far away, either – was taken as a witness of what they were already persuaded of. It reminded me of Redskin shamans explaining to the uninitiated the wrath of Manitu.
I even read of someone having bad dreams, which left no doubt in her mind something very wrong had just happened. Hey, she had bad dreams. What else do you need to be persuaded.
But then during the 2013 conclave some bird took place on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, and the shamans were all in a flutter for the contrary reason adduced for the lightning. Ah, a bird stopped to rest over a chimney. What a miracle.
Or think of this: when an extremely strong earthquake and sea quake took the extremely Catholic Messina in, I think, 1908 and killed around 100,000 people, no one deduced from an earthquake and sea quake in a most Catholic city of a most Catholic Country with a most Catholic pope (St. Pius X, no less) that God must be angry at that particular papacy…
This “shaman” mentality extends to very trivial events; like predatory birds attacking the doves just freed by Bishop Francis The Peaceful Killer Of Clueless Birds. Ominous, they said. A sign of the times. Strangely, they never saw a sign of the times on the many occasions in which the doves went away peacefully (to be killed by some other bird shortly thereafter, surely…). Still, if one is prone to such coffee reading he is perfectly free to conclude that God protects the peaceful dove as it flies peacefully away from St. Peter's squares, showing God's support for the humble Pope Of Peace, Francis The Peaceful Protector Of Doves.
Look: birds attack birds. It happens all the time. It's part of the rich fabric of Creation.
The mentality that this implies is a very strange one indeed: God talks to us through events that can be deciphered only by those who already know what God wants to say. Funny world.
The simple truth of the matter is that natural disasters, diseases, and the like all happen because the Garden of Even is no more, and we must live in a world full of imperfections and troubles, and in which the disgraces and diseases are, as a whole, the fruit of our disobedience. Still, cancer will strike the good as well as the bad, earthquakes will destroy the most heathen or the most Catholic of cities, doves will be attacked or not attacked by predatory birds, and the lightning rods of the highest buildings of the surroundings will continue to attract lightnings more than the lightning rods of the surrounding buildings until the end of time.
I invite my readers to have a more reasonable approach to natural events; not only because it is the reasonable thing to do, but equally importantly because if one starts to take random facts as evidence that God is on his side he will rapidly blind itself to the falseness of the most outlandish theories, and will start to believe in whatever he pleases, certain of the reassurance of the next lightning, or earthquake, or comet, or storm, or anything else that may serve the purpose, anywhere on the entire planet.
If my Internet connection is not working, is God telling me I must stop blogging? If I opened my blog and the statistics reader says “666”, am I in the thrall of Satan? Pope Francis has a cold: surely, God is warning him! I got a cold: surely, God wants me to stay home today and blog like there's no tomorrow!
Do not give any heed to Catholic shamans. If you do, belief in daily apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, followed by a fax to the adoring crowds, cannot be far away.
“Invented from alpha to omega” is how Archbishop Gaenswein described the rumours about the Pontiff Emeritus' alleged “mystical visions” (many of them).
I have already dedicated a blog post to this, and warned from falling into the trap of those fake Catholics trying to create a new Magisterium, made “infallible” by the Holy Ghost's alleged endorsement of Pope Francis.
Well, now it's official. From the mouth of the de facto speaker of the Pontiff Emeritus himself.
This reminds me of the idiot who left a message in my combox accusing me of being so evil that I do not read the signs of the Holy Ghost, and blasphemous in stating that God is immutable (never read Aquinas, of course).
From the rumours they are ready to believe you will recognise them.
I expect abject apologies from Zenit, who first spread the rumour. I personally would also be interested in knowing the source of this revelation, because the suspicion the sodomite mafia had a finger in this is more than legitimate.
I somewhat doubt either will happen.
A certain view of Pope Benedict’s resignation goes along the lines of the Pontiff Emeritus having resigned as a consequence of “pressures”, or even having been “forced” to resign. In this second case, his successor would not be the legitimate… bishop of Rome.
I do not think these theories have any solid fundament in reality. Allow me to explain why.
A Pope, like every powerful man, is under pressure all the time. Unavoidably, he – and they – will be surrounded by people having different ideas about the course he should take on this or that matter; some of them will be in good faith, and other won’t. It’s all par for the course.
What is not par for the course is a Pope that suddenly begins to do stupid things just because he is put under “pressure” to do so. Pope Ratzinger had a decade-long experience of positions of power; nothing, absolutely nothing of the office life of a powerful man could have been unknown to him. Powerful people know how it works. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be powerful.
The idea of a Ratzinger just deciding that the time has arrived to think with other people’s head, and do what he thinks wrong because others say so, is just untenable and, I add, disrespectful of the former Pontiff, seen as a Romulus Augustulus rather than a true Prince of the Church.
Be it as it may, it might in all cases never be denied that a man who chooses to bend to exterior pressure is himself responsible for his behaviour. Ubi honor, Ibi onus. There is no way Pope Ratzinger might have taken such a decision without bearing all its responsibility. So we are at square one.
Even more absurd is the second hypothesis: that the Pope was “forced”. How do you “force” a Pope to do something he does not want to do? Is our esteem for Benedict so low that we consider him able to bend to, say, the threat of physical violence, or blackmail? What fear of death may a man of 83 have, a Pope to boot? And who on earth would be in a position to threaten or blackmail him without being immediately arrested? Again, this theory is, when reflected upon, even more offensive for the Pontiff Emeritus, who is then seen as having fears for his life, open to blackmail, and outright cowardly. It makes the same sense as to imagine that extraterrestrials would have visited the Pope and said to him either he resigns or they will invade and destroy the Earth in order to devote it to the cultivation of their favourite mushrooms.
No, it doesn’t make sense. What also does not make sense are these equilibrist’s exercises by which every time the Pontiff does something we do not approve of, the reason for it must be looked elsewhere: typically, the culprits are chosen among the “wolves”, as if a Pope could not send all of them to Uganda at three hours’ notice, and as if there were only one of them who is allowed to exert influence on him for even thirty second without his consent.
In addition, this second theory hides a terrible menace to Catholicism: ad libitum Sedevacantism.
If every time we have a bad Pope we start to theorise that the former Pope might have been “forced” to resign (or have been poisoned, or the like) and therefore the current Pope not validly elected, or the result of murderous scheming, we will create an army of Sunday Sedevacantists who think they can decide, by every Pontificate, whether it is a legitimate one or the Sea is vacant. This in itself is a worse danger than every Papal resignation, and can cause immense damage by weakening the dignity and authority of the Papacy.
If I think that I can freely decide whether the Pope is Pope (say, because I have become persuaded the last Pope was illicitly disposed of), it is fair to say I am the last one who can call himself Catholic.
My suggestion is that we leave the conspiracy fantasies where they belong: to the old cranks, the Sunday Novelists and the Vodka Vaticanists – of whom there will never be any scarcity – and start to respect the Papacy, the Popes and common sense.
Benedict “forced” to resign? Seriously, the “extraterrestrial” theory makes more sense.
We live in terrible times for a Catholic; a time in which not only the… Bishop of Rome is very bad (this has often happened in the past, as I will never tire to point out), but the news of how bad he is goes around the world in minutes. We are, therefore, subject to challenges our ancestors did not have. One of the results of this disgraceful Papacy will be to undermine the prestige of the office, and the devil will try to use this to persuade the faithful that the Church is not the Church, or the Pope is not the Pope, or both.
We, who are good and well instructed Caholics, react to such a temptation. We stay faithful to the Only Church as we bemoan Her miserable state, and we stay faithful to the… Bishop of Rome and to the Papacy he does not even want to mention, because as good Catholics we side with the Papacy even when the Pope is an utter disgrace.
Beware the temptation of escaping the drama that is unfolding under our eyes by fleeing to a fantasy world made of non-popes, of “poping wolves”, or of outlandish theories of Vatican Fiction. The reality is bad enough. It is a Cross we are called to carry. Let’s carry it denouncing every falsehood and scandal, but staying faithful to the institutions of the Church and the Papacy.
Don’t believe the rumours. Believe the facts.
The fact is that the Pontiff Emeritus has said that he did not have the strength, both spiritual and physical, to continue his job as Pope. That’s what he said.
Now there are third-hand, unnamed rumours according to which Benedict would have had a mystical experience (actually many months long; heavy stuff, then…) at the end of which he felt inspired to live a life totally dedicated to prayer.
This already strange news – from, let us say it again, an unnamed source – is made even stranger by the other follow-up rumour, that Benedict would have recognised even more, after “witnessing the charisma” of Francis, that his stepping down was “the will of God”.
God’s will doesn’t change like the one of a sixteen year old girl, so it remains to be explained how Benedict would justify saying “my successor does all the contrary of what I do, but he has “charisma”, so it must be the will of God that he is now the Pope”. It does not make sense from a purely logical point of view, but it makes even less sense if you think Popes are elected at God’s bidding (they aren’t: the Pope is elected by those chaps in red called the Cardinals. Don’t blame God for the Cardinals’ mistakes, irreligious attitude, cowardice, corruption or outright criminal attitude).
If God positively decides who becomes Pope, than this must be a very strange God, positively imposing several dozens of appallingly secular or outright criminal people to His own flock. He would also be as fickle as the above mentioned girl, having decided in 2005 for Ratzinger against Bergoglio and now saying “on second thoughts, Joseph, that in 2005 might have been, like, kinda mistake. I’d rather have the other chap. Would you mind to step down? Please?”.
If you ask me, this is uncontrolled bollocks spread by those who want to give Francis the quality seal “officially endorsed by the Holy Ghost”.
Don’t believe the rumours.
When, and only when, Benedict says publicly that Francis is the man hand picked by the Holy Ghost to be Pope, call a doctor and don’t believe a word anymore of what he says; then in that case it would be clear the good man has clearly gone the sad way of John Paul II; gone, in fact, to the point of insulting the Holy Ghost and the Papacy at the same time. A Koran-kissing Pope, Mk II.
Heavens, can it really be that we live in such stupid times that basic Truth can be undermined by this kind of third-rate bollocks by hearsay? Can it truly be that there are people not only simple enough to think God wanted (as opposed to “allowed”) that the likes of Benedict IX and Leo X, of Liberius and John XXII, and of many others, become Pope, but even that in doing so God would not be able to let even eight years pass without radically, erm, changing His mind?
Such a hypothetical God wouldn’t be believable in a kindergarten, but it must be obviously just the ticket of the V II “revolution” crowd. If the narrative of the “hand picked by the Holy Ghost” were to swallowed by the faithful, we would have a new infallible magisterium, but endowed with a, erm, more recent and “fresher” infallibility than the original one! “Hey, Francis was the man picked by the Holy Ghost with his own hands! How can every blasphemy, heresy or stupid novelty he says not be the new will of God?”.
God is immutable. God never changes His mind, or His rules. If He did, He wouldn’t be God, because the very idea of mutation, of change, of transition is in contradiction with the idea of total, omnipotent perfection that must perforce be an essential element of God. If it is God, it does not change His mind. Whatever changes his mind, can never be God.
If anyone says or implies God “changes his mind” tell him to wash his mouth, and that he deserves to be slapped.
Don’t believe the bollocks by hearsay.
If you had any doubt about the devastating effect of Bishop Francis' senseless self-promotion at the expense of sound Catholicism and elementary truths, this one is only one of the very many articles now on the net concerning the news.
Note the usual two issues: “Francis good, Benedict bad” and “it's a beginning, but by far not enough”. You can read these narratives everywhere.
Now, someone might say “the leftist press spins the Bishop”, but I must strongly disagree.
When Francis himself does not miss any occasion to point out how different he is from his predecessor, can we really blame the press for jumping on it? Francis' and Benedict's attitude towards not only homosexuals, but even sodomites are so distant the two seem to belong to different religions. It is just plain blind to make every possible and impossible effort to try to reconcile the two. The entire planet has picked up the difference, because the difference is there.
How can any sane person expect that a Pontiff waffles the usual “who am I to judge?” Mantra without the world press picking it up? And do you really think Bishop Francis is so thick he thinks he can throw such a bomb without the explosion being heard everywhere? Come on…
Francis knew the conflagration would be huge. This is exactly why he threw the bomb. Or can anyone seriously believe this man is now systematically “misunderstood” in a way which makes him very popular with the world, and lets him appear like the good man “trying to change the Church as much as he can”?
People who don't want to be misunderstood do not insist with “off-the-cuff” comments regularly causing a pandemonium. They express themselves in public with carefully worded statements, that do not leave any space for “misunderstandings”. But this is a revolutionary… Bishop of Rome. He is interested in spreading as much confusion as he can, whilst making himself popular in the process. He says that openly, by the way, and the famous reference to the “noise” is nothing else than a further confirmation of the climate of permanent revolution he wants to create at the grassroots: in the dioceses, in the religious orders, in the universities, in the seminaries, everywhere.
I just wonder: how can a man go on doing exactly the same for four and a half months, without people believing that he does it on purpose?
Does all this, then, achieve some results? Of course it does.
1. Francis is the mascot of the world.
2. The world appreciate Francis' effort, but is not satisfied. “Baby steps”, says the linked article. Tsk, tsk. Not good enough. Much more to do towards the “gays” (a term, tellingly, now used by Francis himself: first time for a Pope). Francis is good, but still not like the world; but everyone understands it's not really his fault, so he does just fine.
Maximum damage for the Church and maximum confusion for the faithful, but maximum personal advantage for the humble Bishop.
One must appreciate the effort made by some to offer what at the beginning appeared a reasonable key of interpretation of the new successor of Peter.
The Church is inherently conservative, and Popes tend to be even more conservative. It was, therefore, absolutely understandable one would consider the novelties of the Bishop of Rome – which, one must admit, the man did not lose a second in showing – as the quirks of an old man, possibly meant to make him popular and possibly meant to make the Church, as a whole, fashionable; quirks that would, it was reasonable to assume, not alter anything substantial in the way the Church understands Herself, with merely the addition of poverty rhetoric, and a generous dollop of Peace 'n Justice.
Soon, though, it became clear this interpretation was more and more difficult to defend: when the refusal to wear the Mozzetta or the red shoes was followed by a serious liturgical abuse on Maundy Thursday, it was clear we are in front of a man who considers himself above Canon Law; a man unable to understand that even if he is the Bishop of Rome and can therefore change some of the rules, he is nevertheless bound by an elementary sense of propriety – and by the necessity to give a good example – to be the first one who abides by them as long as they are there. The oh so humble Bishop was already resembling an Oriental satrap.
With the weeks, it became worse. It was clear to everyone the current Bishop of Rome was insistently and ostentatiously distancing himself from his predecessor. The examples are too many to be all recollected here: from the choice of transport to the refusal to spend the summer in Castel Gandolfo, from the obsessive search for wheelchairs in front of the cameras to the dismal habit of uncontrolled off-the-cuff observations the world absolutely had to be informed about, this man showed more and more clearly he wants to be seen as entirely different from Benedict, totally focused on himself, and completely detached from everything his predecessors have done. Jorge was at this point already madly in love with Francis, and the entire planet had to be informed of the fact. This alone is as Un-Benedictine as can be, and every hope Francis might still be like Benedict – when he did not lose a single occasion to show how different he is – was already appearing the preserve of pathological optimists.
The last weeks have, though, put very thick nails on the coffin of the “reading Francis through Benedict” narrative. The unspeakably arrogant refusal to even suspend such a disgraceful individual as Monsignor Ricca was followed by an even more arrogant, and even more astonishing, downplaying of sodomitical activity as some sin of the youth – as if the man had been chasing skirt in his early Twenties and before his vocation rather than being an inveterate sodomite uncaring for scandal probably until exposed, and certainly well in his Forties and whilst being a Monsignor – and by the mocking dismissal of the existence of the “gay lobby” of whose existence he himself had informed the planet.
At this point, any reading of Francis through I do not say Benedict, but even Paul VI is utterly untenable. On the contrary, this is a man so different from Benedict in absolutely everything – including intellectual and, as is now abundantly evident, moral stature – that every reading of the one through the others is as absurd as the attempt to give a Catholic interpretation of Mein Kampf.
Francis is, sees himself, and wants to be seen as in head on collision with Benedict. He lives in a completely different dimension, in which not even the concept of the most basic decency could be said to be shared with Benedict's worldview. This is the reality on the ground, and has been from the habemus Papam. We have been slow to get the message, because the message is so shocking that it takes a while to even persuade the faithful of it. But this is where we are, and the Bishop of Rome's invitation to “make noise” – when seen in conjunction with his blatant liturgical abuses before and after his accession to the throne – clearly show this man is positively encouraging a revolutionary movement from the grassroots, and countless liturgical and otherwise abuses meant to make the Church more “modern” and “relevant”; that is, meant to sell Her to the world; lock, stock, and barrel.
Of course, Francis will always be, at times, in agreement with Benedict. It's not that he is denying the Trinity, or the necessity of the Sacraments. If Benedict say that two and two is four, Francis will necessarily agree. But this is also where the similarities end, because truly, Bishop Francis could not have troubled himself more to stress how different he is from Pope Benedict; and, I must add, from all the Popes before the latter.
Seriously: if Francis can be read through Benedict, Hitler can be read through St. Thomas Aquinas.
It just doesn't work.