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Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Scary Merry Christmas: Francis Lectures Roman Curia Featured

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A Scary Merry Christmas: Francis Lectures Roman Curia

You are spiritually sick, malicious, and tools of the devil.

It’s Christmastime again. That means it’s time for the Pope who says But never judge. Never” to issue his annual judgments on the character defects and spiritual illnesses of members of the Roman Curia who are resisting his “reforms.”

In his annual “Christmas Greetings” (more like “Christmas Condemnations”), Francis reminds the Curia that he has already twice (2014 and 2015) diagnosed their “diseases” of soul and prescribed “catalogue of virtues [emphasis in original] necessary for curial officials and all those who wish their consecration or service to the Church to become more fruitful.” This year, Francis heaps more insults on the mountain of crude opprobrium with which he has attempted to bury any opposition to whatever he would like to do under the rubric of the Protestant slogan semper reformanda (falsely attributed to Saint Augustine, who said nothing of a Church that must constantly reform itself as opposed to maintaining or restoring what has been handed down).


According to Francis, “the semper reformanda must also become, in the case of the Curia, a permanent personal and structural process of conversion”—that is, a reform that never ends, the ceaseless mobilism of Modernist theology. But there are those who resist the semper reformanda on account of “disease” for which there must be “cures because every surgical operation, if it is to be successful, must be preceded by detailed diagnosis and careful analysis, and needs to be accompanied and followed up by precise prescriptions.” The Curia not yet having responded to the cure, however, Francis now reiterates his diagnosis and prescription for treatment of intractable cases of Reform Resistance Disease (RRD).

First of all, Francis allows that “[t]here can be cases of open resistance [emphasis in original], often born of goodwill and sincere dialogue”—often, but not always, as we shall see. But then there are “cases of hidden resistance [emphasis in original], born of fearful or hardened hearts content with the empty rhetoric of ‘spiritual window-dressing’ typical of those who say they are ready for change, yet want everything to remain as it was before.” This would be the moderate form of RRD, suffered by those whose flesh is willing to undergo the process of endless reform, but whose spirit is weak.  They talk the talk of endless reform, but will not walk the walk.

The severe form of RRD, on the other hand, involves the symptom of “malicious resistance [emphasis in original],” which is clearly the gravamen of Francis’s complaint. The malicious form of RRD—as if we didn’t know it after three years of this sort of propaganda—manifests itself in those who are attached to Tradition: “misguided minds… when the devil inspires ill intentions (often cloaked in sheep’s clothing).  This last kind of resistance hides behind words of self-justification and often accusation; it takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar…” There must be no hiding behind traditions! The patient must take his bitter medicine and be prepared to leave all that behind as the cure takes effect.

The “good cases of resistance,” says Francis, are “necessary and merit being listened to, welcomed and their expression encouraged, because this is a sign that the body is living”—although, of course, this good resistance will not deter Francis in the least. It is rather like a fever in the patient, a sign that the body is fighting the disease. But the malicious form of RRD must be stamped out—by removal and quarantine of the infected patients if necessary.

In that regard, everyone must be reminded that the cure for RRD is not only “prayer, much prayer, profound humility” but also “responsible exercise of power, unconditioned obedience”, which means “supporting the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his singular, ordinary, full, supreme, immediate and universal power.”

Odd—is it not? —how the persona of “Roman Pontiff” suddenly makes its appearance when Francis is demanding obedience to his novelties. But the same Roman Pontiff is nowhere to be seen when it comes to obeying the defined dogmas and perennial doctrines and disciplines of the Holy Catholic Church.

For any sufferer from RRD who still does not accept the diagnosis and treatment, there is the catch-all gnostic prescription of “abandonment to the sure guidance of the Holy Spirit and trust in his necessary support.” That is, to resist the reforms of Francis is to resist the very will of the God of Surprises of whose latest auguries the ad hoc Roman Pontiff is the sole oracle. There is never any suggestion that the same Holy Spirit would ever inform Francis that he is on the wrong course. Like the Protestant version of the Holy Spirit, the version promoted by Francis infallibly confirms what one wishes to hear—except in the case of those suffering from RRD, who are never in touch with “the Spirit” but only with their own rigidity and pride.

Among the reforms the God of Surprises is demanding through Francis—in the Church that never stops reforming—is what Francis describes as “a simplification and streamlining of the Curia.” Here is how Francis describes his work of “simplification” thus far:

·         the Council of Cardinals (Consilium Cardinalium Summo Pontifici) … was created…

·         the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Institute for Works of Religion was established…

·         … the COSEA (Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure) was instituted…

·         … the Holy See’s Financial Security Committee was established…

·         … the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF), established by Benedict XVI… was consolidated.

·         … the Secretariat for the Economy and the Council for the Economy were established to replace the Council of 15 Cardinals…

·         the Office of General Auditor (URG) was established as a new agency of the Holy See…

·         … the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was established…

·         … the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See was transferred to the Secretariat for the Economy…

·         … the Statutes of the new economic agencies were approved….

·         … the Secretariat for Communication was established …

·         … the Statutes of the Secretariat for Communication were promulgated…

·         ... the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life was established…

·         … the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was established… four Pontifical Councils—Justice and Peace,Cor Unum, the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and Healthcare Workers—will be merged into this Dicastery…

This “simplification” of the Roman Curia might appear to be a multiplication of bureaucratic agencies and a reshuffling of some existing agencies, accompanied by a blizzard of new Vatican rules and regulations. But that would be the outlook of one suffering from moderate to severe RRD. Anyone in touch with the “Spirit” would know that “simplify” does not necessarily mean “make simpler.” Simplify could also mean complicate. In the same way, defending the indissolubility of marriage could also mean ignoring the indissolubility of marriage by allowing people in invalid “second marriages” to receive Holy Communion while their valid sacramental marriages to other people subsist.

Let it not be thought that Francis limits his diagnosis and prescription to members of the Curia. Speaking more generally, he calls for “gradualism (discernment)” in the overall process of never-ending reform. By this he means “the necessary discernment entailed by historical processes, the passage of time and stages of development, assessment, correction, experimentation, and approvals ad experimentum.  In these cases, it is not a matter of indecision, but of the flexibility needed to be able to achieve a true reform.” And what exactly constitutes a “true reform”? Evidently, that is for Francis to know and for the members of the Curia (and the rest of the Church) to find out as the God of Surprises reveals his will in a continuing gnostic download of the latest instructions during a Hegelian outrolling of “historical processes”—but always instructions for change and never restoration, which is the old idea of reform Francis has diagnosed as a disease that must be cured.

As a parting insult, Francis distributed to all the members of the Curia in attendance a classic Jesuit text “ad curandos animae morbos”—on caring for diseases of the soul. There is no indication that anyone in attendance—in the “spirit of dialogue,” of course—dared to propose to this most humble of Popes a cure to which Our Lord Himself alluded in the Sermon on the Mount: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”


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Last modified on Thursday, December 22, 2016
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.