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Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Papal Trip to Korea: An Anguished Catholic’s Perspective

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Pope requests Kia Soul as South Korean Popemobile Pope requests Kia Soul as South Korean Popemobile

God Incarnate to His disciples:

Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.”
Pope Francis to the Asian bishops:

And so, with my identity and my empathy, my openness, I walk with the other. I don’t try to make him come over to me, I don’t proselytize.”

In departing for Seoul, Pope Francis flew in a personal helicopter to a chartered jet embossed with a Vatican logo for the trip. During the flight an Alitalia crew provided first-class treatment to the Pope, who occupied “the first seat in business class with no one next to him,” and his large entourage. The service included a four-course Italian dinner: sparkling wine and salsiccie (diced sausage and olives), fresh cannelloni with ricotta cheese, rocket salad, Italian prosciutto ham and cantaloupe, and “a hearty beef stew.”  On arrival, the Pope walked down a long, red-carpeted airstair, and then a red carpet that appeared to be at least 200-feet-long, at the end of which he was greeted by leading South Korean dignitaries.

But then, at the end of the red carpet, Francis squeezed into the back seat of a Kia Soul, the kind of car a high school student might drive, provided upon his specific request for the “the smallest South Korean car during his visit” (that model is actually the second-smallest). This was supposed to demonstrate the Pope’s humility and frugality—after a chartered flight with first-class dining that must have cost more than a million dollars for the Pope and his entourage.

Is anybody really still buying this humility offensive? And how is it humble to refuse transportation suitable for a head of state in order to make a big show of riding around in a tin can during a trip that will cost tens of millions for chartered jets, rather sumptuous in-flight meals, security, food and accommodations on the ground, and the staging of massive public events? The whole spectacle is infuriating to anyone who recognizes that the manipulation of images typical of politicians is being applied to this pontificate, probably under the supervision of the Pope’s “
PR genius” and “marketing mastermind,” Greg Burke.

The Pope delivered a magnificent sermon during the Mass for the beatification of the Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 fellow Korean Catholic martyrs “who lived and died for Christ, and now reign with Him in joy and in glory.” The sermon describes how Korean intellectuals had been converted by reading Catholic works on the teachings of Jesus and had then spread the Faith to the common people, leading to “the first baptisms, the yearning for a full sacramental and ecclesial life, and the beginnings of missionary outreach.” This was followed by martyrdom:

Soon after the first seeds of faith were planted in this land, the martyrs and the Christian community had to choose between following Jesus or the world.  They had heard the Lord’s warning that the world would hate them because of him (Jn 17:14); they knew the cost of discipleship.  For many, this meant persecution, and later flight to the mountains, where they formed Catholic villages.  They were willing to make great sacrifices and let themselves be stripped of whatever kept them from Christ – possessions and land, prestige and honor – for they knew that Christ alone was their true treasure.

The sermon was magnificent because Francis did not wreck the beautifully written text with his habitual improvised banalities and theological dubieties. The same could not be said, however, for his major address to a gathering of Asian bishops in the South Korean city of Haemi. The prepared text was a talk any pope could have delivered, featuring familiar warnings about relativism and the dangers of watering down Christian identity,” wrote John Allen, but, “by the time Francis finished expanding the text on the fly, however, the overall tone was different.

To say the least!  The Pope’s improvisations undermined everything his sermon had said about the courageous witness of the martyrs he had just beatified. Using the word “dialogue” some 22 times, Francis sounded his by now familiar themes: “with my identity and my empathy, my openness, I walk with the other. I don’t try to make him come over to me, I don’t proselytize.” Really? It seems that the Korean martyrs were martyred for doing precisely that. “Dialogue” was not part of their Catholic vocabulary, nor was it part of anyone’s Catholic vocabulary before 1962: the word “was completely unknown in the Church’s teaching before the Council. It does not occur once in any previous council, or in papal encyclicals, or in sermons or in pastoral practice.” (Amerio, Iota Unum, p. 347).

Then there was Francis’s usual disparagement of the peculiar doctrinal and disciplinary features of traditional Roman Catholicism, all of which the Korean martyrs observed or would have accepted implicitly. For the umpteenth time Francis belittled “the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.

The Pope stated the obvious objection to his own view that one must not proselytize but rather dialogue and “walk with” people: “But, brother Pope, this is what we are doing, but perhaps we are converting no one or very few people....” Indeed! And the Pope’s answer: “But you are doing it anyway: with your identity, you are hearing the other.”

The idea that one can convert others merely by displaying one’s “identity” and “hearing the other” would have sounded like utter nonsense to the martyrs of Korea, who were put to death for preaching the Gospel in order to convert and save souls in keeping with the divine commission. And those same martyrs would probably have not believed it if they were told that one day a Pope would say this to the bishops of Asia: “And the Lord will grant his grace: sometimes he will move hearts and someone will ask for baptism, sometimes not. But always let us walk together. This is the heart of dialogue.” In other words, perhaps you will make converts while dialoguing, perhaps not. But don’t worry: dialogue is the thing! Evangelization has lost all meaning in Bergoglian theology, which is essentially the post-Vatican II Jesuit liberalism of the 1970s.

The Pope refused to deliver his address to the Asian bishops from the throne provided for the Vicar of Christ. He insisted upon using a lectern in yet another public display of humility—as if the occasion were all about him rather than the God whose vicar he is. In the middle of Francis’s semi-improvised speech, which all but undid the witness of the Korean martyrs, the lectern collapsed. “My speech has collapsed,” said Francis. That is not the only thing that has collapsed over the past eighteen months.

May God soon deliver the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church from the seemingly endless fog of confusion that descended upon her some fifty years ago, of which this pontificate seems to represent the densest extension yet.



Last modified on Sunday, August 17, 2014
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.