The world understands, even if most Catholics have forgotten, that the Catholic Church is the last barrier against the terminal civilizational apostasy for which the powers that be have been laboring for almost three centuries. In the crowd-pleasing words, gestures and publicity stunts Pope Francis provides almost daily, which the media promptly trumpet to the detriment of his predecessors and the Church’s image, the makers of world opinion see their last best chance to take the Church out of commission once and for all. The media recognize that this Pope, whatever his intentions, speaks as if he were determined to complete, per impossible, the ecclesial auto-demolition lamented too late by Paul VI in the midst of the Second Vatican Council’s catastrophically foolish “opening to the world.”
From the traditional Catholic perspective of this newspaper, however, Pope Francis is Man of the Year for a different reason: the unintended consequences of his increasingly alarming pontificate. That is, the “Francis effect” is finally awakening many Catholics outside traditionalist circles to the awful reality of the post-conciliar revolution in the Church, bringing them face-to-face with a crisis the “normalists” can no longer conceal behind their usual emasculating interpretations of events. This awakening is typified by the mordant commentary of one rightly appalled Catholic, a convert and novelist, in light of Francis’s upcoming encyclical on “climate change,” already being hailed by the media as the next advance for “the Francis revolution.” Under the title “I Am Concerned“ she writes:
I regret that our current Holy Father speaks so strongly on topics about which no one expects him to know any more than anyone else. As far as his popular image is concerned, I don’t really care what color shoes he wears, what sort of car he goes about in, or where he chooses to set up housekeeping… Nothing is more seductive than flattery and applause, especially from a fickle and sensation-hungry press, and nothing is more fatal to our souls than vanity…. I suppose ‘encyclicals’ on other subjects can be written anywhere, provided one wears shoes of a politically correct color.
As these sentiments would suggest, Francis’s most significant impact is turning out to be, not what the world applauds, but his inadvertent demonstration that the revolution has gone too far, that it is time to return to the point where the Church’s human element strayed from the path of Tradition to pursue an imaginary “renewal,” and that nothing is more urgent now than a recovery of everything that was abandoned during a ruinous experiment in novelty Francis seems determined to pursue to the bitter end according to the “dream” enunciated in his personal manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium:
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.
It is this boundless progressivism, seemingly unhampered by any reverence for what the Church has handed down in her “ways of doing things” through the centuries, that accounts for the “Francis effect” which has earned him the world’s endless adulation. In less than two years we have already witnessed these “achievements” of the Bergoglian papacy:
- an unprecedented disdain for traditional vestments, customs and protocols of the papacy, with the result that the media exalt Francis’s “humility” to the detriment of all his predecessors, including canonized saints who honored these traditions as due the sacrality of the office of Vicar of Christ;
- further ostentatious demonstrations of “humility,” always before the cameras (dining with Vatican employees in the cafeteria, “selfies” with members of the crowd, riding a bus to the annual retreat, carrying his own black bag on the chartered jet, etc.), which the media further exploit as an unfavorable reflection on previous Popes;
- perversion of the traditional Holy Thursday mandatum, commemorating the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist at the first Mass offered by Our Lord, by washing and kissing the feet of non-Catholics, including Muslim women, thus degrading a sacred tradition by subordinating it to his personal desire to display “humility” in a novel way;
- the infamous declaration “Who am I to judge?” respecting “gay persons” in the Catholic priesthood, creating the impression of an unprecedented new “openness” to “gay people” in the Church, which he has since done nothing to counter but on the contrary has continued to cultivate, as seen at the Synod on “the Family,” which he controlled;
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- innumerable scandalously confusing and heterodox interviews and conversations with journalists, including the doctrinaire atheist Eugenio Scalfari, which the Vatican publishing house, with Francis’s approval, has recently published in book form, confounding all attempts by his apologists to argue that he was misquoted or misunderstood;
- a persistent abuse of Sacred Scripture during the daily “meditations” at Casa Santa Marta: Christ “ (when in fact he boasted only of his infirmities, not his offenses against God), and so on;
- constant public attacks on members of the faithful Francis accuses of “feel[ing] superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past,” of seeking “an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,” of having an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige,” and of exhibiting a “supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline [that] leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism”—thus rashly misjudging the motives of traditional Roman Catholics who practice the bimillenial Faith of their fathers;
- an open contempt for the Church’s traditional liturgy, which Francis dismisses as “a kind fashion” to which certain people are “addicted”;
- the brutal dismemberment of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on account of its increasing attachment to the traditional Latin Mass and its “definite traditionalist drift,” and the targeting of the Sisters of the Immaculate for a similar fate under the guise of a completely unwarranted “Apostolic Visitation” conducted by modernist nuns;
- the warm embrace of Protestant ministers and televangelists as “brothers” Francis declares he is “not interested” in converting, even as they steal millions of sheep from the Catholic flock entrusted to him, as they have done throughout a Latin America that is less Catholic by the day;
- the astonishing declaration that it is “sinning against Christ’s will” to focus on the Church’s doctrinal differences with Protestants because “our shared baptism is more important than our differences”—thus effectively discarding every teaching of the Magisterium and the Church’s infallible anathemas on the errors of Luther and the other Protestant sects;
- a stubborn defense of Islam, contrary to the entire history of its persecution of Christians which continues today, including Francis’s declaration in Evangelii Gaudium that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence”—a claim he has absolutely no competence to make;
- a defense of Islam against the well-founded claim that it inherently promotes violence against “infidels”: “You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups”—thus suggesting that Roman Catholic traditionalists or Protestant “Bible-thumpers” are on a par with Muslim fanatics who commit murder, rape and innumerable other acts of violence and persecution against Christians or routinely sentence them to death for “blasphemy” or “apostasy” according to the established juridical frameworks of Muslim countries;
- the invitation to a Muslim Imam to “pray for peace” in the Vatican gardens, who, quoting the Koran in Francis’s presence, called upon Allah to “grant us victory over the heathen/disbelieving/infidel” (i.e. non-Muslims), following which there erupted violence of massive proportions in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the savage Muslim persecution of Christians in various nations;
- the ridiculous “Soccer Game for Peace,” personally arranged by Francis, during which “gay pride” flags were on display and an obscenely dressed, gyrating Argentinian teenage pop diva sang John Lennon’s anthem Imagine, calling for an end to all religion, while a group of children surrounding her looked on adoringly;
- the prayer beside a Muslim Imam in the Blue Mosque at Istanbul at the very moment Christians were being hung, burned alive, decapitated, raped, enslaved and driven from their homes in Muslim nations, while the Imam with whom Francis prayed and his counterparts around the world refuse to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fanatics;
- the failure to intervene to plead for the freedom of Mariam Ibraheem Ishag, the pregnant Catholic convert sentenced to death by the Islamic dictatorship of Sudan for “apostasy” from Islam, even though governments, religious leaders and human rights groups around the world militated—successfully—for her release;
- silence and inaction in the face of written pleas fom Aisa Bibi, sentenced to death for “blasphemy” by the Islamic regime of Pakistan, whereas Pope Benedict XVI had publicly called for the dismissal of all charges against her and even the Russian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church recently issued a formal statement declaring that “our multimillion flock joins their voice to that of the great number of people throughout the world who advocate for saving the life of this Christian woman” and calling upon Pakistan’s president to grant her a pardon;
- the dogged promotion of the errors of Cardinal Walter Kasper, including his insane proposal to admit public adulterers to Holy Communion, which Francis himself permitted when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires;
- a Synod on “the Family” that quite predictably devolved into an attack on the family, including an “opening” to “gays” and public adulterers in the disgraceful midterm report Francis approved and had distributed to the press before the Synod Fathers had even seen it, prompting a rebellion by bishops and even cardinals against the Synod’s manipulation;
- the introduction of a “God of surprises” during a jeremiad against “so-called ‘traditionalists’” after the Synod Fathers had rejected the midterm report and failed to adopt language in the final report that also suggested an “opening” to “gays” and Holy Communion for public adulterers;
- retaining the rejected synodal texts for use in the proceedings at the 2015 Synod despite the Synod Fathers’ failure to approve them;
- meddling in international affairs to facilitate a disadvantageous prisoner swap between the United States and the communist dictatorship of Cuba, which gained nothing for Cuba’s persecuted Catholics, who at this very moment are suffering under a government crackdown on Christians, but did allow Barack Obama to declare a normalization of relations with Cuba for which both he and the dictator Raul Castro publicly thanked Francis;
- such small but telling gestures as wearing a clown nose, jumping up to catch a baseball tossed at him from the crowd (causing his skull cap to fly off), and the placement of World Youth Day beach ball on the historic Marian altar in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major immediately next to the tabernacle (before which Francis made no gesture of reverence), held in place with a World Youth Day T-shirt because the beach ball kept rolling away;
- “the Francis revolution” in general, as reflected in his expressed “fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe…”
With Francis we appear to be approaching the trajectory’s terminal point: a de facto merger of most of the human element of the Church with the world to which the Church has been “opened,” the Pope to serve as a respected facilitator of worldly diplomacy, social justice and peaceful relations among men of all religions or no religion, as the Church’s mission of making disciples of all nations is definitively abandoned by those who are divinely commissioned to carry it out. As Obama declared on national television in giving thanks to Francis for helping to broker the “breakthrough” that gave the Communist dictators of Cuba everything they wanted in return for almost nothing, leaving the Catholics of Cuba still firmly under their yoke: “I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.” Such praise for a Pope from such a man, for such a reason, cannot fail to awaken serious Catholics to the almost apocalyptic gravity of our situation.
And that is precisely why Francis must been seen as our Man of the Year. For as the New Year begins we can have the certitude of faith that God is already drawing immense good from the disaster of this pontificate as more and more Catholics turn away in horror from the destructive revolution it represents, looking once again toward Tradition and the legacy of the great Popes who labored so heroically to defend the Church from what attacks her with reckless abandon today.