As every year, there is a longish Christmas pause in Italian football. This pause is, like every year, used by South American footballers to go back to countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil or, well, Argentina.
They stay there more or less quiet for a couple of weeks; try not to eat too much; greet all parents and relatives; and in January, when the time has come, reluctantly or very reluctantly board the plane to Italy. Some take every excuse to come back later, in fact, causing some Lío behind the very heavy desks of their employers.
It seems to me that another Argentinian could have done the same. Let the vescovo vicario, or whoever it is the protocol calls for, celebrate all the masses for you.
Stun the world.
Fly to Argentina.
Spend Christmas in the slum, among the dirt and the rats. Sleep in a barrack. Dance the tango with the local prostitutes. Call all the TV stations to immortalise the Great Event.
Come on. Beats a wheelchair every day. So populist-christmasy. Unto us a hero is born. The First Castroite. Deck the Halls With Bags Of Dope….
Personally, I would not want anyone to think it's easy to get accustomed to the humble luxury of … an entire hotel floor. L'albergo e' grande, la gente mormora…. (you should learn Italian… no: you really should…).
Again, just my humble opinion. A lost occasion, I think, for first-class, ground-breaking, media-shattering Attention Whoring. Albeit, it must be said, at the cost of substituting the Humble Hotel Floor for the rats and the dirt for a couple of weeks, day and night.
Which, perhaps, it's all there is to say about the matter.
The way I know it, Alitalia has stopped long ago to put an aeroplane at the disposal of the Pope for free, and they have started to demand that aeroplane be chartered at market rates instead. The Vatican obliges, and recovers the costs by selling expensive tickets to the journalists travelling with the Pope. This allows the journalists in question to stay at the core of the action, and the Pope even comes to say “hello” and have a chat with the boys and the occasional girl during the flight, obviously “off the record” before madness came to power.
I am, therefore, not scandalised for the star cook or the luxury meal, as by the price of those tickets it would be the height of the stinginess to offer beans and tuna fish from the can, with the accompaniment of freshly sliced onion.
I also understand the Pope will have to travel with a degree of privacy, and will have to be able to sleep in total comfort. After all, he is the Pope.
But then this very Pope who travels with all the privileges due to his rank asks that a small Kia car be put at his disposal for his movements in Korea, ostentatiously displaying a “poverty” he does not live whenever cameras are away.
This Pope lives in a way not appreciably different from the way his predecessors lived. He occupies an entire floor of an hotel, causing costs and inconveniences his predecessors would not dream of causing. He travels first class on his own chartered aeroplane, and I have even read – but it must have been a mistake or misunderstanding – that on his way to Korea he kept the entire first class for him, Billionaire-style. He eats the same gourmet food as the others. He certain did not reside, whilst in Korea, in a Bed & Breakfast.
But then, whenever some cheap theatre for the benefit of the gullible can be had he is all for it. From the cobbler to the newsagent, from the wheelchairs to the invalid children, and from the minivan to the Ford Focus no trick is too cheap for him, no stunt too populist, no rhetoric too over the top.
If Francis wanted to practice what he preaches, he would take the bus from St Peter to Termini station. From there, a direct train line would bring him to Fiumicino airport. Second class, if you please, and harassed by the gipsy beggars like everyone else. Security concerns are, obviously, not an issue for the Pope Of The Poor. Who would want to harm him? He refuses the armoured car, doesn’t he? Let the poor around him be his shield. Let him be one of them, among them. St Francis, poverty, humility, and all that.
Once in Fiumicino, he can queue to his check-in for his second-class flight and, once this is done, wait on one of the endless rows of seats until his plane is called. He can have a walk every now and then. Greet people. Embrace wheelchairs. Read some Kueng. Things like that. Let him queue like everyone else, Argentine passport in hand, and take place in the seat he has booked, himself of course, on His favourite travel site.
I know, the leg space isn’t great; but hey, small Kias aren’t much better, either; and where’s the poverty, if one does not share the hardships of the poor? And look at how easy it is: no aeroplanes to charter, no journalists to host, no gourmet tickets to prepare. The humble Francis can have a sandwich, and a bottle of mineral water; or, if he wants to splurge, there’s always McDonald’s, certainly a familiar venue to small Kia drivers the world over.
Once arrived in Seoul, though, Francis is a guest. I understand, therefore, that the bus might not be appropriate. This is where the small Kia comes in, and fits in the picture.
What have we seen of all this? The Kia only, and that one surrounded by photographers. For the rest, this one here is the Renaissance Prince all right. Apart from the fact that he isn’t, of course, and thinking of him words like “boor” come rather more easily to mind.
This is Francis’ hypocrisy. Not in his living as a Pope, but in his living as a Pope and feigning monastic lifestyle. Not in the big apartment, but in having it in a hotel in a shameless show of pretended humility. Not in the first class travel, or the chartered aeroplane, or the gourmet meal; but in the Kia at the airport, the minivan, the damn Ford Focus, and the old Renault 4 he obviously uses – if he does – when the poor walk.
The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. But then again this mind-boggling hypocrisy only works, and brings him huge popularity, because of the mind-boggling thickness of those unable to see how cheap Francis’ tricks are.
I never had great confidence in humanity’s smartness at large. Christ was insulted by the same mob who had hailed him only five days before. Most prophets were killed. People now approve of sexual perversion in unthinkable numbers only one generation ago. But one must say that Francis’ papacy has brought in front of us the misery of the human condition, and the utter stupidity of the greater number of sheep, in very vivid colours.
Alessandro Manzoni famously wrote that the masses are like an ox: dumb, and easily led.
One must recognise that literacy hasn’t changed anything in that.
I am following, in the usual fashion (half terrified of the next bomb, half bored of the usual platitudes) Francis travel to Korea, where he is tirelessly promoting Francis and making clear he is not there to promote Christianity.
One issue in particular stroke me as odd, even for the man.
One day he laments that poverty is rising, whilst the rich get even richer. I do not know whence he has the figures and if he is every worried by facts, but this is what he said.
The day after he is on record with saying that poverty is a treasure.
Now: I was always told that poverty can certain help one to develop humility and avoid hell through that avenue. I am perfectly fine with that, and I think this corresponds to traditional Catholic thinking. But traditional Catholic thinking has also always been based on the serene acceptance that the poor will always be with us, that being poor is in itself no stairway to heaven, and that in the same way as poverty helps the poor to develop humility, wealth allows the wealthy to nourish their poverty in spirit, and to grow in charity. What counts is the humility, the poverty in spirit, the love of God. The arrogant poor, or the resentful poor, or the entitled poor, is certainly not on his way to anywhere for being poor; actually he runs the risk, if he allows his resentment to destroy charity, of being both poor and damned. Conversely, the rich who is poor in spirit and uses his wealth wisely is, in fact, well on his way to avoiding hell.
If this is correct – and I believe it is – we are in front of another example of Francis’ thinking: confused and resentful at the same time.
On the one hand, he never misses an occasion to bash the rich (the ones who are not his buddies, that is; his buddies can be very rich or even have private jets and it will be receiving, video-ing and high-fiving all round), showing that at the core of his social thinking is a resentment for the un-befriended wealthy that would do him honour in Moscow circa 1921, but not among Christians.
On the other hand, he seem to embrace a kind of sanctification of poverty at the same time as he condemns it. It does not make sense. The Church seeks to alleviate poverty, which means that poverty in itself – I mean here involuntary and not willingly embraced: the poverty of the poor and destitute, not the poverty of the monks and hermits – is not seen as anywhere near good. Which Francis also says, with one corner of his mouth. The other, as so often, disagrees.
Poverty that makes one suffer can’t be good in itself, but God can use everything to lead one to Him, even bad events and negative situations. Disease is the same. War, famine or bereavements too. But what Francis does is in my eyes nothing else than an attempt of sanctification of the poor – which is, as I get it, the underlying message, and the message he wants amplified by the press: “look how good you are: rejoice, because you are poor and therefore Christ’s favourites”) that is in the end nothing more than a bashing of the rich (“be afraid, because you are rich; unless you are buddies of mine, that is”) with the excuse of the poor.I never heard him say that those Countries who are at war have found a great collective treasure, either.
I never thought it a coincidence that among the beatitudes, poverty has the qualification ” in spirit”. The meek are blessed qua meek. The peacemakers are blessed qua peacemakers. The poor are, emphatically, not blessed qua (financially) poor. They are blessed only if, and because, they are humble. As are the rich, and those in between.
It seems to me that Francis has his gaze always firmly fixed on this earth, and that on this earth he has long-nourished resentments he now can freely vent, sure in the knowledge an army of sycophants will praise him for whatever he says from both corners of his mouth.
Even if they contradict each other.
I always had a marked dislike for those who want to bend everything to their own ideology; particularly so, when the issue is religion. You all know the types: the revolutionaries telling you Jesus was a “revolutionary”, the pacifists maintaining he was a pacifist, or the environ-mentalists insisting that Jesus was one like them. They all take a message (actually, the Truth) and deform it so that it may serve their own purposes.
The Bishop of Rome, “who am I to judge”-Francis, is no exception; and he is no exception, inter alia, pertaining to one of the most sacred issued in Catholicism: the defence of the unborn.
As a Pope, Francis must say something on the matter every now and then. He tried to downplay or kill the issue: first keeping schtum for months, and then telling us we should not “obsess” with abortion, the loneliness of the elderly clearly being a far bigger problem. Still, he realised he would not be able to completely avoid the issue. What will he, then, do? He will do like the people mentioned above, and conveniently deform or downplay the issue to promote, at least in part, something else.
He did it one first time when he spoke of the unborn child as poor. Put that way, the impression is endangered the characteristics of the unborn child we should first notice is not that he is God’s creature, endowed with the right to live God has given him and no one can take away from him. No, what is presented to us first is that the unborn child is poor. In this way, the attention is deflected from the issue at hand (the legalised murder) and is conveniently directed towards, who would believe it, the true obsession of the Bishop of Rome: poverty.
The same has happened again some days ago: speaking of abortion, Francis had nothing harsher to say than it being another aspect of the throwaway culture, or if you want to be more ample in your criticism: consumerism. Curiously, this is another pet peeve of a man who is unable to obsess about abortion, but is perfectly able to touch ad nauseam all the usual issues of the West-hating liberal and socialist culture; which, in the end, is the culture of selfishness, smugness, envy, or plain death.
Last time I looked, to kill a baby in the womb was a tad worse than to buy a new car without the old needing replacement, or the larger LCD TV set when the old was doing its job just fine. Abortion involves an elementary issue of life and death, a brutal question of a human life being disposed of. Therefore, the issue of abortion lives in a sphere infinitely more important than every consumerism and every poverty. It is, in fact, difficult to imagine a more dramatic issue than this, even for people without a religious instruction or without any interest in getting one.
Francis knows all this. But he also knows that clear condemnation of abortion as what it is, the legal killing of an innocent unborn life to satisfy the selfish desire of her mother, would come across as “judgmental” and “reactionary”, thus costing him very dear in terms of what he wants most and really obsesses him: his own popularity and perception as icon of change. Therefore, he prefers to downplay the issue whilst blowing the horn of his own ideological bias.
Put in short: Francis talks about abortion as little as he can get away with. And when he does, he tries to let you think of something else, and to direct you towards his usual issues.
No man plagued with “excessive doctrinal securities”, this one.
Vatican official says not to expect papal encyclical on poverty
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An official at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said that, despite widespread news reports and the statement of an Italian bishop, he does not expect Pope Francis to write an encyclical on the subject of poverty. “If you asked (the pope) he would probably say to you, ‘Why do we need an encyclical? What is the encyclical supposed to tell us that we don’t already know?'” said Jesuit Father Michael Czerny. In May, Bishop Luigi Martella of Molfetta, Italy, wrote that the pope had recently told him and other bishops of Italy’s Puglia region that he was planning an encyclical on poverty, “understood not in an ideological and political sense, but in an evangelical sense.” The bishop said the encyclical would be called “Beati Pauperes” (“Blessed Are the Poor”). But Father Czerny told Catholic News Service the church is still digesting retired Pope Benedict XVI’s major contribution to the church’s teaching on the subject. “Less than five years ago, we had a superb social encyclical, ‘Caritas in Veritate,’ and I’m sure that Pope Francis agrees with every word of it. There is an amount of material in it that we could work on,” Father Czerny said. “It would keep us busy for 20 years.”
Mundabor’s interpretation of Father Czerny’s words:
“Evangelii Gaudium has shown such an incompetence, and has drawn such an amount of criticism, that the Pope has decided he will leave his Peronist rants to other kind of communications or documents, but will not face the unprecedented flak and the years of mockery that are sure to follow a Peronist Encyclical. Go and read Pope Ratzinger instead. Semel in anno, let’s play it safe”.
Well done, Your Holiness!
Silence is golden!
Obama truly loves Francis. Why shouldn't he? Francis is so juvenile that he can wonder why the planet is more interested in the Dow Jones than in the death of a homeless. I think he forgot the time when he had to earn a living, or was worried about his pension, or knew – if he ever knew – that the stock exchanges are the best thermometer of the world economy, and people tend to be more interested in them than in the next bum drinking himself to death. This is the usual (very stupid) rhetoric about the individual destinies, according to which we should forbid vehicular traffic, because even one life of a child saved is more important than all the cars in the world.
Not even six years old stoop to such low levels of reasoning. They perfectly well understand that the world is interested in global events and the death of their grandma, devastating in itself, will not make world news. Everyone knows grandmas die at some point; bums tend to drink or drug themselves to death (which is why you must never ever hand them money), car rowdies tend to die of car accidents, & Co. Everyone knows it, only Francis doesn't. Or else in his relentless quest for popularity he has stooped so low one cannot even see him anymore.
In Francis' world, people should wake up in the morning listening to tale of violent deaths in Africa; then move on to the problem of youth unemployment (the biggest problem on earth, remember!) followed by the loneliness of the old people (the second biggest). At 11 on the dot we would have the situation of the favelas in Buenos Aires, where we would be informed that Rosario La Paz, a small-time criminal, has been found in a ditch with a bullet in his head. Rio is on with similar news – but the chap is called Joao Salazar – at 2 PM, Bombay (I still say “Bombay”) at 4 PM, closely followed by Calcutta (names difficult to remember at that point). The world being rather vast, I can't imagine there would be any time for the Dow Jones, but again small things like the world economy do not concern Francis, so everything is fine.
The stunt about the dead bum that should be more important news than the Dow Jones is truly like Francis: populist, Peronist, juvenile, and fit for the stupid. No surprise that Obama's crowd and Barry himself would salute it.
Francis is accused of being a Marxist, but I doubt even Marx would have said something as infantile as that. Francis is worse than Marx. Marx just wasn't the Pope.
In the meantime, Obama rejoices and the liberals have another field day.
Congratulations, Holy Father.
And do you go to school already?
The usual nutcase auxiliary bishop has now advocated putting the defence of life and the fight against poverty on the same footing. This looks like a seamless garment, or rather like a shameless bishop. No doubt, he hopes Francis reads him. No doubt, he also hopes he is seen as “in touch with the times”, which is rather useful if you are aiming at your own diocese.
The absurdity of the reasoning is apparent to everyone who doesn't vote for Obama: abortion is murder, and feeding the hungry etc. are works of mercy.
Therefore, to put the two on the same footing is like saying that, in actual fact, it is a work of mercy not to murder one's own baby.
Such are our bishops.