Indeed we do. Which is why this newspaper is obliged to follow the example of these priests by reporting and refuting as many of Francis’s errors as possible. For compared to the innumerable errors of Francis, the infamous errant sermons of John XXII, which provoked furious public opposition from orthodox theologians at the time, leading to the wayward Pope’s deathbed retraction, are trivial in comparison.
The faithful have a duty to respond to this situation in keeping with their natural right as baptized members of the Church Militant to communicate with the sacred pastors and with each other regarding ecclesial concerns. (Cfr. Canon 212 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law) Hence this new feature: the Font of Error Update, which mirrors the intent of the Denzinger-Bergoglio website.
Where Sacred Scripture in particular is concerned, we have learned from bitter experience that practically nothing Francis says by way of interpretation can be trusted; every “interpretation” must be checked. And, far too often, one will find that the Bible says the opposite, or very nearly the opposite, of what Francis claims, particularly where the teaching and mission of Christ are concerned. (A particularly egregious example, discussed here, is the twisting of Matthew 19:3-9 from Our Lord’s condemnation of the Pharisees’ toleration of divorce into a condemnation of present-day Catholic as Pharisees for defending Christ’s teaching against divorce!)
The latest example is the Audience Address of September 7, 2016, a discussion of the eleventh Chapter of Matthew wherein John the Baptist, in prison, sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the promised Messiah. John, says Francis, “was anxiously awaiting the Messiah and in his preaching had described him [sic] in bold colors, as a judge who would finally install the reign of God and purify his people, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked.” But, according to Francis, Jesus had “launched his public mission with a different style” and “John suffers… because he does not understand this style of Jesus and wants to know if he really is the Messiah or should we wait for another.” That is, Francis suggests that John the Baptist was disappointed with the “style” of Jesus and therefore dubious about His Messianic pedigree.
Francis begins his twisting of the Gospel by noting that earlier in Matthew’s account (Matthew 3:10), John had indeed preached: “For now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire.” But, according to Francis, when John’s disciples inquire of Jesus whether he is the Messiah:
the reply of Jesus seems at first sight not to correspond to the request of the Baptist. Jesus, in fact, says: “Go and related to John what you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are purified, the deaf heard, the dead rise gain, the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in me (Matt 4-6).” Here the intention of the Lord Jesus becomes clear: He responds that he is the concrete instrument of the mercy of God, who encounters everyone, bringing the consolation of salvation, and in this way manifests the judgment of God.
Note, first of all, the conflation of God’s mercy with His judgment, as if His mercy simply is His judgment and there is no judgment or condemnation. Note also the subversive implication that John, not expecting this merciful Messiah, suffered with doubt because Jesus was healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching the Gospel to the poor as opposed to simply rewarding the good and punishing the wicked as John had prophesied.
Francis thus sets up a false opposition between John’s prophesy of the coming Messiah and Jesus’s works of mercy, when in fact there is no opposition at all. He twists Christ’s miracles into a “style” that John supposedly could not comprehend: the beneficiaries of the miracles “recover their dignity and are no longer excluded, the dead return to life, while to the poor is announced the Good News”—as if John somehow objected to this!
This is nonsense. John wishes to know if Jesus is the Messiah not because he has doubts about Jesus’s “style” but precisely because he “had heard in prison of the works of Christ (Matt 11:2)”—that is, His miracles. John was seeking confirmation that this miracle-worker was indeed the Anointed One prophesied in Scripture. Francis has simply invented John’s mental state of doubt and dismay over Jesus’ unexpected “style.”
Having set up a non-existent opposition between John’s supposedly false expectations and the contrary “style” of Jesus, Francis then delivers his misleading conclusion, which involves heavy censorship of Chapter 11 combined with an out-of-context citation to the Psalms:
The message that the Church receives from this account of the life of Christ is very clear. God has not sent his son into the world to punish sinners, nor to annihilate the wicked. To them instead he [sic] invites conversion so that, seeing the signs of his divine goodness, they can find their way back. As the Psalm says: “If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities/O Lord, who could stand?/But there is forgiveness with Thee/That Thou mayest be feared (Psalm 130:3-4).”
This is at best a half-truth. First of all, Psalm 130 (129 in the Douay Rheims) is immediately preceded by Psalm 129 (128 in the Douay Rheims) where we read: “The wicked have wrought upon thy back: they have lengthened their iniquity/The Lord who is just will cut the necks of sinners: let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Sion/Let them pass as grass upon the tops of houses, which withereth before it be plucked up.”
Secondly, and infinitely more important, in the verses that Francis expediently excises from the “message” of Chapter 11 (20-25), God Incarnate gives a warning that parallels that of Psalm 129 and His earlier in warning Matthew about the fate of the unfruitful tree that is cast into the fire:
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein were done the most of his miracles, for that they had not done penance.
Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you.
And thou Capharnaum, shalt thou be exalted up to heaven? thou shalt go down even unto hell. For if in Sodom had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in thee, perhaps it had remained unto this day.
But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
The real message of Chapter 11, read in context, is the same message as the Psalm, read in context. It is the same message of the Gospel as a whole: God forgives those who believe and repent, failing which they will be condemned for all eternity. The same Christ who forgives the repentant also condemns the unrepentant to eternal damnation.
Contrary to what Francis says, therefore, Christ has come precisely “to punish sinners” and “annihilate the wicked,” not merely to forgive those who repent. As the very Credo of our religion declares: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” And, as Our Lord Himself made clear in the Gospel (Jn 5:22-28), it is He alone who issues that terrible judgment immediately upon death and again on the Last Day:
Neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father. He who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him.
Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life.
Amen, amen I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, so he hath given the Son also to have life in himself: And he hath given him power to do judgment, because he is the Son of man. Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh, wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.
For the past three-and-a-half years, Francis has presented precisely the Modernist caricature of the non-judgmental Jesus described by Pope Saint Pius X in his condemnation of the Sillon movement for “peace and justice” in France, whose utopian pan-religiosity, anticipating John Paul II’s illusory “civilization of love,” is now the program of the Vatican itself, taken to a whole new level by Francis:
We wish to draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to this distortion of the Gospel and to the sacred character of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, prevailing within the Sillon and elsewhere… [They] put aside the divinity of Jesus Christ, and then to mention only His unlimited clemency, His compassion for all human miseries, and His pressing exhortations to the love of our neighbor and to the brotherhood of men.
True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around Him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors.
Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. …. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body.…
These are teachings that it would be wrong to apply only to one's personal life in order to win eternal salvation; these are eminently social teachings, and they show in Our Lord Jesus Christ something quite different from an inconsistent and impotent humanitarianism.
Francis’s thematic concealment of the justice of God by confusing it with His mercy appears in his personal manifesto Evangelli gaudium, where we read the following outright false declaration: “To understand this reality we need to approach it with the gaze of the Good Shepherd, who seeks not to judge but to love.” On the contrary, God is the just judge, who judges all men by the will of the Father at the very moment they die, sending many into the eternal fire of which He spoke more often than of Heaven. Nor is there any opposition between His love and His judgment.
But as we see with this most recent “catechesis,” the rhetorical device of the false opposition—hiding one truth by opposing it to another—is basic to Francis’s method, which constantly opposes “mercy” to “the law”, “pastoral practice” to doctrine, and “discernment” of “concrete situations” to “the general rule.” The same rhetorical device is basic to Modernist theology. And Modernist theology, combined with illimitable loquacity, is exactly what makes Francis a seemingly endless font of error—none of it any more binding on the Church than the infamous sermons of John XXII.