We have tried to treat Francis as sons; to give Francis the benefit of every doubt… But we have also been forced to admit the Pope’s shortcomings, and in particular the confusion he causes when the faithful compare what the Church has always asked of them with what Pope Francis asks of them.
This has been a source of pain for many deeply-committed and well-informed Catholics. Moreover, the entire problem has been exacerbated by Pope Francis’ unfortunate tendency to dismiss his critics—or even merely those who ask for clarifications—as “rigid”, “nasty”, and suffering from “psychological problems”.
…. Suffice it to say here that it is not “proselytism” to want to bring non-Catholic Christians into the Church so that they can enjoy the full range of God’s gifts for our salvation; and it is not “rigid” or “legalistic” to affirm, as we say to God in the Act of Faith, that we believe “all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
Contrary to what Pope Francis often implies, Catholic teaching on faith and morals is not a matter of “laws” or “rules” but of the conformity of the mind with reality, which is the definition of truth. When Pope Francis calls names, therefore, we can barely restrain ourselves from deploying the famous defensive strategy most of us used as children. I mean the little poem that begins “I’m rubber and you’re glue.”
Ponder what Mirus admits here: that the Church is afflicted by a Pope who spreads confusion, rejects efforts to convert non-Catholics, belittles Catholic teaching on faith and morals as mere “rules,” and publicly and repeatedly calumniates the defenders of that teaching as rigid legalists with personality defects and even psychological disorders. In short, Mirus concedes that we have a Pope who is attacking the Church! But then Mirus counsels that we ignore the attack:
Unfortunately, at a certain point, our serious concern about Pope Francis can become a preoccupation—an unhealthy preoccupation…. Satan desires nothing more than for us to become so engrossed by what we frequently perceive as the Pope’s recklessness that we forget our own vocations, our own Catholic mission, our own apostolates.
Worrying about the daily confusion and sorrow Pope Francis introduces into our lives can impede us from working on our first priority—which is living our Catholic life in Christ as fully as we possibly can….
I’d like to suggest that it is time to turn the corner on Pope Francis. Most of us have no cards to play in the game of improving the papacy….
I admit that there is no way to hide from these problems, and we should want to keep informed. The point here is that we should be able to take them in stride without losing our serenity. There is far, far more to the life of the Church than can be hindered or helped by any one person, even if that person is the Pope….
In essence, Mirus’s prescription for the plague of Bergoglianism is a kind of de facto sedevacantism. As Francis cannot be defended or followed in his errors, we must act as if there were no Pope and get on with our individual spiritual lives lest this disastrous pontificate become an unhealthy “preoccupation.”
But how is it possible for us to ignore “the daily confusion and sorrow Pope Francis introduces into our lives”? As members of the Mystical Body of Christ we cannot live for ourselves alone. The “daily confusion and sorrow” Pope Francis inflicts on the Church affects innumerable souls who are taken in by his reckless novelties, his incessant demagoguery, and his emotional appeals to a false mercy that would leave them mired in an objective condition of mortal sin which contradicts the natural law that even faithless pagans, deprived of the Sacraments, are able to follow according to merely natural virtue.
Francis cannot be ignored. On the contrary, the faithful must be ever vigilant respecting his every word and deed; and whenever he causes “confusion and sorrow” in the Church, he must be opposed by every Catholic worthy of the name according to the station and means of each member of the faithful. As Saint Paul admonishes us, the members of the Mystical Body must be “mutually careful one for another” for “if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it… (1 Cor 12:25-26).”
Our duty of opposition is not a warrant for spiteful recrimination against a Pope who does indeed call us names, thus shamefully debasing his august office as spiritual father of the Church universal. To that extent, Mirus has it right. But neither should we affect a pose of meek and humble perplexity, as if we did not know that, whatever his subjective disposition, this astonishing Pope is clearly determined to impose his errant will on the Church through one shocking abuse of power after another, while demonizing and marginalizing anyone who opposes him in the manner of a politician in the midst of a political campaign.
Such violence to the Mystical Body calls for the strongest possible response from its intended victims; courtly politeness is not adequate to the enormity of what Francis is attempting to perpetrate. To allude to the defense of the four cardinals just published by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, our spirit should be that of Saint Hilary, writing to Pope Liberius to protest the pontiff’s endorsement of a semi-Arian formula in the midst of the Arian crisis: “Anathema tibi a me dictum, praevaricator Liberi” (I say to you anathema, prevaricator Liberius).” Here we might remind ourselves of the historical example of the furious public opposition to John XXII regarding an error that seems almost trivial in comparison to the havoc Francis has been causing for more than three years.
No, we cannot just “turn the corner on Pope Francis.” We cannot remain silent while the few prelates who have had the courage to voice public opposition to his errors are (to quote Bishop Schneider) internally exiled by “hush-up strategies and… slander campaigns” conducted by papal sycophants and ecclesial subversives in miters, who have no concern for the integrity of the Faith. We cannot allow “intolerance, refusal of dialogue, and irrational rage” to wear us down to the point that we would simply allow the rest of the Church, following Francis, to “surrender to relativism in doctrine and practice, in faith and life,” which is happening at this very moment in nation after nation.
When Peter came to Antioch, Saint Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” When Francis comes to us incessantly through modern means of communication that broadcast his errors instantaneously to the whole Church, accompanied by the world’s applause, the last thing we must do is what Mirus recommends: “take them in stride without losing our serenity.” We do not have the luxury of serene acceptance of a Pope who is attacking the Church. An exhausted quietism must not be confused with a true serenity of spirit, which obtains even in the midst of battle.
The Pope is divinely ordained to be the Church’s center of unity—a unity in truth, not his personal will. Francis, on the contrary, is a source of constant confusion and disunity, which surround him like a hurricane surrounds its eye. He is almost certainly the worst Pope the Church has ever seen, even in the midst of the worst crisis the Church has ever seen. But as the grim reality of this destructive pontificate becomes undeniable, we see among the neo-Catholic commentariat a sudden adjustment of their longstanding approach to the papacy: the neo-Catholic dictum “never contradict the Pope” is being replaced by “never mind the Pope.”
The neo-Catholic polemic has found a whole new way to defend the indefensible—by ignoring it, which is now presented as the spiritually superior approach to the ceaseless Bergoglian onslaught. The neo-Catholic claim to the moral high ground will thus be maintained by suggesting that those who will not “turn the corner” on Francis—meaning traditionalists, of course—are suffering from a spiritually “unhealthy preoccupation” with the Pope’s doings. To recall what Mirus says of the new approach: “There is far, far more to the life of the Church than can be hindered or helped by any one person, even if that person is the Pope….” Despite decades of papolatry, now they want to tell us that the papacy is really not such a big a deal after all.
But that rhetorical ploy is one duck that won’t lift from the lake. That Mirus cannot bear any more of this pontificate and now attempts to justify downplaying the awful, seemingly endless spectacle of it all, only confirms the necessity not to “turn the corner” on Francis. On the contrary, as confirmed soldiers in Christ we must face up to him in defense of the truth—not only for our own good, but for the good of the Church, for the good of souls and, above all, for the glory and honor owed to Almighty God.