Predictably, the Francis effect is unfolding.
Not only there is an army of Catholics openly at variance with the Church, but in the new Age of Stupidity this army more and more gets to believe that Francis and his successors will move things in their direction. The perception clearly generated is that Francis will demolish all he can demolish himself, and pave the way for further demolitions after him.
The wrecking ball humbly devastating Catholicism is, predictably, also showing its destructive effect on the sacraments. Five percent say they now go to confession more often, twenty two percent less. Is it surprising? With a Pope treating all sacraments like something that does nothing else than improving your day – remember: he cannot imagine God doing more than slapping one on the wrist; salvation is open even to atheists; Muslims should cling to their own religion; Jews have their own reserved lane to Jesus – how can one be surprised that the sacraments are neglected?
I suspect the five percent going to confession more often do it rather as a reaction to Francis than because they like him. Those who like him have no reason to do anything than feel pleased with themselves: no judging anymore, no fear of the Lord. Converting others no Catholicism? No, no, no!
Sit back and relax: the Humble Pope will tell you everything you need to hear.
One year later, the damage made by the Age of Stupidity cannot be ignored. The demolition is not even subtle. It's brutally explicit, vulgar, unashamed of its own irreligiousness, shouted from the rooftops.
Please, Lord, free us from this scourge.
Laudably, Bishop Francis invites us to go to confession; and in an interesting turn of events even seems to insist in calling it “confession” rather than with its V II correct name of “reconciliation”. Still, as Francis is polluted through and through with the evil ideology of V II, he regularly fails to stress and impress upon his readers what once upon a time would have been hammered in the faithful’s head by the most mediocre of priests: that there is an obligation to go to confession.
This is indicative of the entire V II mentality, even in those cases when the steroids of Francis’ South-American Jesuitism are, for the time being, blessedly absent. Whenever I read Francis’ exhortations, I am reminded of those newspaper articles gently encouraging us to eat more carrots, or reminding us of the virtues of Brussels Sprouts: you should do this, because you see, it’s good.
The not-so-small difference is that there is no Sacrament Of Carrots, nor is it necessary to eat Brussels Sprouts to have one’s mortal sins forgiven; and as importantly, that God does not tell me to eat carrots, but He commands me to go to Confession. I am sure Francis is aware of this, but from the way he talks this is not very evident.
“Oh, but he is talking to Catholics – some will say – they know that! They do not need to be reminded!”
Really? Have you noticed any trend in Confession frequency in the last, say, fifty years? And by the way, how come the faithful never have to be reminded about their obligation to attend Mass, go to confession, not contracept, & Co., but must be always reminded about poverty, as if they did not know about their obligations in that respect?
Well, I can tell you how come: because for Francis the things of Heaven are fully secondary to the things of earth. His gaze is fully fixed on the favela, and he constantly gives the impression to him religion is just a way to improve people’s condition here on earth.
As if God were there to serve Man, rather than the other way round.
Go to confession, folks. You’ll feel so good when you get out of the confessional.
It can make sense, at times, to give baptism to babies whose parents are not sacramentally married. Those of you who love classical music might, for example, remember the case of Felix Mendelssohn and his siblings; all of them baptised, even if born of Jewish parents.
But you see, Mendelssohn was raised as a Christian – albeit, alas, a Protestant one -, as were his siblings. When he was baptised, the decision to raise him as a Christian was already made. It was no question of what the relatives of the parents “expected”, or of a nice ceremony and party, or of the child not feeling “different” when at elementary school. The intention to have people around the baby caring for a proper Christian upbringing was certainly there already.
This is most certainly not so for many couples nowadays, who consider having their children baptised only in order to avoid discussions with their parents, or because of the “nice ceremony”, or because everyone else in their circles does it. That they do not care is already not shown, but shouted, by the simple fact that they are not married in church. There might be other people – perhaps the uncle, or the grandparents – taking this obligation for themselves; but how often this is the case nowadays both you and I can easily imagine.
Never one to let a good headline go to waste, Bishop Francis has now baptised the son of a couple who did not consider it right – or did not have the right, I do not know the details – to marry in the church, though they apparently did consider it just the ticket to have their baby baptised by the Pope. Would the Bishop of Rome object to this? Well, of course not…
Francis is very aware – whatever the Pollyannas might think – of the worldwide echo of anything he does differently from his predecessors, and he has already complained in public about those priests who are restrictive in their decision to give baptism (probably because they care, I add). When, therefore, Francis proceeds to baptise the baby of public concubines living in scandal, he willingly undermines both marriage and baptism. The first because he sends the clear message that another usual testimony of Christian faith, that is obviously a sacrament and an obvious precondition for a chaste life in common rather than concubinage, can be dispensed with; and the second because it again creates the perception that a baptism is something you give to a baby like you would a pacifier.
This may seem strange to us, but certainly isn't in Francis' world. If atheists can be saved and Jews don't need to be converted, baptism is clearly no big deal. If God punishes us with a slap on the wrist at most, then clearly God has already slated us for inevitable salvation at conception. If there is no need to convert anyone to Catholicism, or Christianity come to that, then there is no specific value to be attached to the peculiar rite of admission to this Christian faith and baptism can be given for the asking, merely as a token of something already there for everyone.
In Francis' vision there is only one community of faithful, the humans. He has already baptised all of them – be they atheist in “good conscience”, Jews eating kosher or Muslims observing the Ramadan – in the name of the Black Shoes, the Ford Focus and the Wheelchair. It is very clear to him Christianity is just one of many options, all of them leading to inevitable salvation, with the worst case scenario being a slap in the wrist. He probably considers Christianity the best option; but again, certainly not to the point of trying to persuade others to follow his choice. He will merely point out to you the advantages of choosing this option: having more joooy, experiencing more luv, and the like.
Why on earth would he ever have a problem in giving baptism to absolutely anyone?
From Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam an interesting observation (mentioned also by others) about the IPhone application meant to prepare one for confession.
Typically, the worst part of the press has not lost the occasion to be misleading and superficial, possibly engendering in the most acutely lapsed Catholics the idea that it be now possible to, so to speak, self-confess and self-absolve oneself with the help of an iPhone application.
Of course, the readers of this blog very well know how things stand. But it might be useful to be vigilant and decidedly refute every opinion set in circulation by the uninformed. It might be even better to try to casually throw the app in as preparation to confession, just to have a good thing mentioned… 😉
If we remember the confusion generated by Pope Benedict’s careless words about condoms, we have the idea of what damage can be created among the very many for whom Catholicism is only as a distant voice, and who will receive Catholicism as a distant and often distorted echo. They shouldn’t be neglected and the effort to have as many doctrinal points as possible right among the majority of the general public is, in my eyes, essential if we want these lost sheep to come back to the fold.