Proving once again that he’s either malicious or the most incompetent pope in history, Francis finally notices the worst clerical crisis in the history of the Catholic Church. But are his words so many flowers after the beating?
No one wants to criticize the pope, but sometimes it is necessary in order to defend the Truth. In that vein, Pope Francis is about to hand lay Catholics a bunch of roses after having beaten them relentlessly for the last five years. The metaphorical bunch of roses in question is his concession that—despite everything he and his cohorts have said and done up to this point in time—perhaps there is an issue with homosexuality in the clergy. This concession is allegedly made in The Strength of a Vocation, a book-sized interview with the pontiff.
Up until now Francis has surrounded himself with and promoted many people who are arguably homosexual. In the Francis-Vatican it sometimes seems to outside observers that the hierarchy is like a bath house full of homosexual activity. But Francis—like many prelates—has heretofore seemingly been unable to comprehend the self-evident logic that an 80% pederasty problem may be indicative of a homosexual issue in the clergy. Instead, he has reserved his criticism for Catholics who, he says, are “rosary counters,” “specialists of the Logos,” “ideological Christians,” “Creed reciting parrot Christians,” “closed in the formality of a prayer that is cold and stingy.” According to him, such persons make themselves “up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as [we] pray, making sure that [we] are seen.” In Francis-Vatican, that is, the head has tried to eat the body, and—in a demonstration of the inherent logic of Natural Law—finding itself without a leg to stand on the head now seems to want to play nice. But this religious cannibalism has gone too far; we must now stay the course and defend ourselves against a pontificate that places itself above the words of He who created it.
In making his concession about clerical homosexuality, Francis can be compared to an abuser who stands before the court of public opinion in handcuffs of his own making, and the laity can be compared to his spouse and children. Thus, one could say that it is possible that when he is released, Francis may even bring a card, a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne after he gives the flowers, but it would be wise for us not to answer the doorbell when he gets here. These things never end well once the expediency of an apology has been outlived.
As everyone knows, he likes to make a mess, and he certainly has made quite a mess over the last few years. Of course, one can use as examples his attempts to compel us to welcome adultery and other obstinately grave behaviours, his insistence that environmentalism be incorporated into Catholicism, his refusal to answer the Dubia thereby easing the fears of the Faithful, and his rampant and unrestrained efforts to punish those who do not agree with his “new paradigm.” These are just some highlights. But, his ne plus ultra has been his abysmal dismissal of the concerns of the US laity and their Bishops Conference in light of the Ted McCarrick scandal and its revelation of the predatory behaviour by bishops and superiors within seminaries and other Church settings.
Francis may believe that “Time is greater than space,” but his behaviour in the context of the McCarrick situation is not blowing over. Peronism’s delays and obfuscation will not work in the United States; Hegelian incrementalism has its limits. Thus, when Archbishop Vigano released his testimonies—notarized, sworn-to assertions about what he told Pope Francis about McCarrick—, Francis’s efforts to seem to rise above it all by staying and playing dumb inevitably failed: “I won’t say a word,” he told journalists on a plane, “It is an act of trust.”
We can imagine a man, dirty white vest and shorts, in front of the cameras on Cops. Hands in the air—bottle of Jack in one and a cigarette in the other—kids screaming, wife bleeding, asking incredulously: “What, what!?” Sadly, that man is The Vicar of Christ, huddled in a corner, waiting for the cock to crow three times.
When the silence and innocence approach failed, the Pontiff of Mercy and No Judgments came out swinging against the, admittedly, aristocratic Vigano and those who wanted his allegations investigated:
In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'. A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction.
In making such statements, Francis sought to paint himself as the victim. But most Catholics do not envy privilege as much as they treasure the Truth. Taking the divisive South American Jesuit entitlement-mindset approach frequently used to whip up the secular crowds, Francis sought to dismiss the charges against him as coming solely from “elite” busybodies wandering about looking for someone to accuse of something. Those who have legitimate concerns he classified as acting like the Devil, “uncover[ing] the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.” By implication, it could be argued that it seems to Francis that clerical sins seem to be fine. It is uncovering them that is the problem. One can see how this would be construed as being a tacit admission by Francis of Vigano’s claims.
Again, we have the image of the white-vested perp on Cops maintaining his innocence despite all of the evidence to the contrary. In terms of the neighbour who called the police when she heard the screaming next door, “She should just mind her own business and stop meddling! She has always been a troublemaker! She has too much money, too much education and too much time on her hands!” When this defense fell relatively flat in democratic America—where success is deemed a positive and not a negative—, a character witness was called in the person of Cardinal Blase Cupich, a McCarrick protégé.
Cupich said that the court of public opinion should simply ignore the whole thing. Francis has, said Cupich:
a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this [whole homosexual issue in the clergy].
Once again, incredible cultural illiteracy prevailed on the part of the hierarchy in control. The American court of public opinion was not impressed with this excuse, either, and there was pressure for greater hierarchical responsibility on pain of sending in the police to do further investigation and potentially issuing a custodial sentence. While Rome remained deaf, the US Catholic Bishops Conference—we can imagine them as Rome’s lawyers—realized the significance of the impending legal investigations that would inevitably follow hierarchical recalcitrance, and they set about implementing a plan in order to mitigate damages.
Their proposed plan was equivalent to voluntarily entering a rehab program, and then asking the court for leniency. It was wise. It is seen frequently in Hollywood misbehaviour issues. Thus, at the conference in November they planned to huddle and issue a document calling upon priests and bishops to promise not to lead a double-life, sexually speaking. They also proposed to expose the hierarchy to a competent lay oversight board in terms of complaints. “Look, Your Honor,” was the approach, “we are trying to regulate ourselves, please give us time.”
However, there were other voices. Some counter-argued that the Church could and should manage its own problems. Needless to say, Francis—the Pope of Synodality—did not listen to his brother bishops who had a more accurate knowledge of the American cultural milieu than his misinformed South American perspective. Instead, he ordered the American bishops to stand down, to do nothing. The Apostolic Nuncio, Christophe Pierre told them:
There are many calls for reform in the Church, particularly amid the present crisis. You yourselves have expressed a greater desire for accountability and transparency. Still, I am struck by the words of the French author Georges Bemanos:
‘Whoever pretends to reform the Church with … the same means used to reform temporal society- not only will he fail in his undertaking, but he will infallibly end by finding himself outside the Church. I say that he finds himself outside the Church before anyone has gone to the trouble of excluding him or her. I say that it is he himself who excludes himself from her by a tragic fatalism … The only way of reforming the Church is to suffer for her. The only way of reforming the visible Church is to suffer for the invisible Church. The only way of reforming the vices of the Church is to lavish on her the example of one’s own most heroic virtues.’
In other words, said Pierre, lay involvement in investigating bishops’ behavior is unacceptable, even anti-Catholic. In this ham-fisted effort Francis can be compared to a drunk who tied his own lawyers’ hands out of spite, while telling the court that this whole thing was just an overblown domestic issue and declaring gregariously that he would handle the problems himself.
It was an ignorant and remarkably stupid display of Narcissism. Unsurprisingly, public outrage ensued, and, ultimately, Francis has been left with no defense and no respect. The Church has been gravely injured. People are feeling lied-to and cheated, and they are apostatizing in anger. In America such an angry body of disaffected Catholics bodes very poorly for Francis and the Church. Such citizens can shape the public dialogue very much against the interests of Francis and his vision for the hierarchy. As a result, Francis is now in deep trouble and, it would seem, he realizes that he needs the American laity to drop the case against him if he is to regain some semblance of dignity and respect in the court of public opinion. He is currently a man who risks his entire legacy being overthrown and despised. Due to the actions of Francis, the Vatican and even Pope Francis himself stand on the verge of being potentially held directly accountable in real-life—not metaphorical—American courts.
Hence his timely new book-length interview—as the Eugenio Scalfari situation shows, the pontiff seems to prefer incoherent rambling over intellectually considered and well-formed written words and sentences—Francis attempts to salvage his position and legacy. In the book, The Strength of a Vocation, the pontiff finally allegedly concedes that he is now “concerned” about homosexuality in the clergy.
About this he says that: “This is something I am concerned about, because perhaps at one time it did not receive much attention.” This assertion is astounding in and of itself. But, for present purposes suffice it to say that in making this statement the “Who am I to Judge Pope,” claims innocence and ignorance while not admitting dereliction of duty. The pope, who appears to have gone out of his way to surround himself with homosexual clergy, seems to backtrack. Cue the Bad Boys, Bad Boys soundtrack: “Honestly, I won’t lay another hand on her! Really, I had no idea that she was being beaten. I had nothing to do with it, but I will make sure it never happens again.”
As if he just recently discovered the issue for himself, according to The Catholic Herald Pope Francis finally concedes that:
“It’s a reality we can’t deny. *** Francis said he was told by one religious superior that the issue was not “that serious, it’s just an expression of an affection.”
“That’s a mistake,” Francis warned. “It’s not just an expression of an affection. In consecrated and priestly life, there’s no room for that kind of affection. Therefore, the Church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.”
We “have to urge homosexual priests, and men and women religious to live celibacy with integrity, and above all, that they be impeccably responsible, trying to never scandalize either their communities or the faithful holy people of God by living a double life. It’s better for them to leave the ministry or the consecrated life rather than to live a double life.”
Some people want to embrace Pope Francis for these words, to throw up their hands and declare that all is forgiven. That is completely understandable, for he is the pope. However, as his metaphorical spouse and children, in analysing these words, given our history together with Francis, we should not accept them at face value. We are closer to Jesus and Tradition. As such, we had better remember that these new sweet-smelling words are but flowers to appease us after five years of beatings. Flowers soon wither and die, but the Hegelian incrementalism of Francis’ would-be new paradigm, on the other hand, is designed to live forever. We cannot allow that to happen.
Francis has known about the “newly-discovered” problem for a very long time—he is not just discovering it now—and he has chosen to do nothing about it. Indeed, he appears to have done his best to ensure that the laity stay mum, and when they have spoken of it, he has accused them of calumny. He has repeatedly railed against the “terrorism of gossip.” His priority has rested with attacking imaginary Pharisees, “moralistic quibblers,” “rigid,” and “intellectual aristocrats.”
Let’s face it, when Francis comes knocking with the flowers contained in this book, we should not open the door. We should not be fooled. He really does not like us or our Tradition, and he does not intend to reform his behaviour, just as he thinks that adulterers need not reform theirs. At the moment, Francis is talking nice because he just needs us to drop the charges!