Sometimes the best we can do as outsiders looking in is to sit back and let the pieces fall where they may. Unfortunately, this may be the case with the Roman Catholic Church under the Francis pontificate.
Pope Francis, who was raised under the teachings of Marxist-style, Liberation theology seems to be force-feeding change on his jurisdiction. Many observers outside the Roman Magisterium have been murmuring that schism may be on the horizon.
In an apparent attempt to shake up the status quo, Francis is hosting a synod in Rome, ostensibly focussed on being more culturally relevant in the Amazon region of South America.
What can, or should the Church do to honor local culture and customs?
Things we shouldn’t do:
- become influenced by social pressures,
- inculcate paganism,
- embrace spiritism, or
- allow idol worship
Unfortunately, this seems to be the direction that the Church on the Tiber is heading under this current pontificate. Confusion has been the hallmark of Pope Francis’ tenure on the throne of St. Peter.
Unfortunately, Francis appears to be more concerned with immigration, decrying national sovereignty, and ecology than about the salvation of souls.
Why is it that so many Catholics feel that it is inappropriate to Criticize Pope Francis? This is especially true among the Roman Catholic clergy and laity. Shouldn’t we simply have the attitude that the Vatican corruption, immorality amongst the hierarchy, financial skullduggery and Pope Francis’ ambiguous teaching simply be that, “He’s the Pope? He’s from a different culture and background. What can we learn from him? Is he a great pope? Time will tell. Is he a bad pope? Shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt and realize, sometimes we have good popes; sometimes we have bad popes; Sometimes we have incompetent popes. Maybe before long, we will have a different pope!
I’m often asked, “why do you complain about the Pope?” “You’re outside of his jurisdiction,” they also say, “you can’t do anything about it, so just get on with doing what you can do with what you have where you are?” As a bishop, I don’t have the liberty of being silent. In a very real sense, even though the ICC is not under Roman control, the influence of Rome is still immense. Where Rome goes, multitudes follow blindly.
Confusion and a strange focus on politics rather than evangelization and conversion of souls seem to be this pope’s focus. This was particularly evident in a recent interview Pope Francis had with the Italian paper La Stampa, leading up to the Amazon Synod. In the interview, Francis speaks about European politics, the immigration crisis, and ecology, without even a nod to any Of the moral issues facing the church.
Nevertheless, what struck me most about the interview with La Stampa is that Francis made no mention of Jesus Christ, the challenges confronting the church such as the shortage of priests, and confrontations by those hoping to change our moral center. There was a brief reference to the Christian roots of Europe, but otherwise no mention of sin, the need for redemption, the need for the Catholic faith and the pressing need for repentance, prayer, and conversion of souls.
Lost was the opportunity to evangelize and bring the focus back to the Christian faith. All that was presented was mushy pablum about politically correct theories.
Here is part of the interview:
Your Holiness, what do you fear most for our planet?
“The disappearance of biodiversity. New lethal diseases. A drift and devastation of nature that can lead to the death of humanity”.
Do you see some new awareness on the environment and climate change issue?
“Yes, especially in the movements of young ecologists, such as the one led by Greta Thunberg, “Fridays for future”. I saw a sign from them that struck me: ‘We are the future!’”.
Can our daily conduct – separating waste collection, not wasting water at home – have an impact or is it insufficient to counter this phenomenon?
“It does have an impact, because it is a matter of concrete actions. And then, above all, it creates and spreads the culture of not dirtying creation”.
Color me unimpressed. When did the role of the Pope Change from being Evangelical to Ecological?
But, Christian charity demands that we give him the benefit of the doubt. The interview was clearly directed and planned by the journalist. He chose the questions and the direction of the conversation. He also edited and selected the words of the pope. It is very possible that the Pope did speak about the need for repentance and conversion and the opportunity to re-evangelize. It is possible that he spoke powerfully about mankind’s sinful condition and the loving sacrifice of Our Lord to redeem the world. It could be that he promoted the Catholic faith called for the lapsed to return and joyfully proclaimed the Christian gospel.
It could be that he did all that, and the journalist simply edited out the religious stuff. But then again, maybe not.
This sort of interview is simply one more example of the cause for the confusion and bewilderment of so many Catholics today. The Great Commission that Jesus gave to his apostles was to take the Gospel to the entire world. Jesus also instructed Peter and the other Apostles to “Feed My Sheep.” many in the modern church feel like sheep without a shepherd, and that the barque of Peter has no one at the helm. Pope Francis is clearly not a master of media, but he should have people who get final approval of what goes out in his name.
The worst thing about this ambiguity and confusion is that it is causing division. I hear more and more Catholics muttering, “This is not my religion” and the problem with that conclusion is that the Catholic who mutters such must, therefore, set out to create their own religion. They go cherry-picking from this magisterial document and that liturgical theory, the teachings of this pope or the life of that pope.
As a particular Church, the ICC rejects the “Cafeteria Catholic” model of modernism. The attitude of “This is not my religion…” sounds like Martin Luther and other Protestant Reformers, rejecting tradition, and set off to find or form their own “true church.” Many these days are taking their cues of change and confusion and breaking away from Rome, some imagining that Rome is moving too slowly are embracing other more liberal Catholic sects — setting up their own jurisdictions based upon majority rule. Without an agreed source of authority, their path ends in the fissiparous swamp of sectarianism political correctness and strife.
This is the trouble with Francis; as a source of authority, he is ambiguous, vague and off-target, what else can possibly be the result? What’s to be done? We must love the Church and her ancient truth more than we respect a man. The error of Vatican One dogma went beyond creating an infallible monarch. In doing so, they also removed any other authority to recuse an errant Pope.
Pope Francis: “I Want The Confusion”
According to ChurchMilitant.com’s Michael Vorris has reported about a conversation of Pope Francis with “some intimates” that took place “a while back.” One of those present pointed out to Francis that his vocabulary was confusing and needed to be clarified.
According to Vorris, Francis responded, “I want the confusion.” Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” As is well known, confusion creates controversy.
By now we all know that the Amazon Synod Has Begun, Pandora’s Box Is Opened and more confusing messages are coming to light. Each day seems to be more bizarre, jarring, and revolutionary as more developments emerge. As another reporter observed “I keep coming back to a line from Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor: ‘When the cardinals elected Bergoglio they did not know what a Pandora’s box they were opening.’”
Shortly before the synod started, Pope Francis and Claudio Cardinal Hummes, the synod’s general relator, hosted a startling indigenous ceremony in the Vatican gardens. Led by a female native of the Amazon region, a group encircling a mandala (symbols of pagan spirituality) bowed down before a statue of Pachamama—Mother Earth.
A synod official didn’t identify the (apparently nude) statue, said the image was probably meant to represent “Mother Earth, fertility, woman, life.” An Amazonian tribal leader, meanwhile, said that the ceremony looked decidedly “pagan.”
Another rite of “indigenous mysticism” took place at a pre-synodal meeting of bishops gathered around Cardinal Hummes’s group, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), which organized both the Vatican gardens ceremony and the synod. One commentator claimed that the synodal fathers “expect the [ceremonial] broth to be hot enough to ingest, in a kind of communion with the Pachamama.” In August, at another preparatory meeting for the synod, a Colombian shaman “blessed” the religious present.
In the synod’s opening days, more unsettling figures leaped out of Pandora’s box. Cardinal Hummes announced that indigenous communities had “requested” the ordination of married men—the very project Hummes has been pushing since at least 2006. Bishop Erwin Kräutler (reportedly the principal author of the synod’s working document) claimed that “indigenous people don’t understand celibacy,” endorsed a female diaconate, and admitted that the synod is “maybe a step to” women priests. Sr. Alba Teresa Cediel Castillo, a Columbian missionary, explained that women in the Amazon already “baptize children,” “celebrate” marriages, and “listen to confessions” without offering absolution. Even an experimental liturgical rite for the Amazon was proposed.
If things proceed along this path we may be seeing two vastly “different religions emerge” within the Roman Church, according to historian Roberto de Mattei. The first is traditional Catholicism; the second is “the Amazonian religion,” he argues, charging that the synod’s working document endorses “pantheism and polytheism.”
At a hard-hitting roundtable of Catholic leaders, de Mattei pointed out that revolutions historically have long incubation periods but move dizzyingly fast once they explode. He believes that the current Church revolution has been simmering for 50 to 60 years and that now “it is possible that all will explode very, very rapidly.” The passage from a material schism to a formal schism “could be dramatic and happen very, very, very rapidly.”
Writing in “The Catholic Thing” on Tuesday, the theologian Fr. Thomas Weinandy published a text on “internal papal schism.” Fr. Weinandy predicted that neither an American nor a German schism will “formally happen”— yet, he explained, Pope Francis remains the “ultimate protector” of German leaders who are promoting “ambiguous teaching and pastoral practice… in accord with Francis’s own.” Thus, says Fr. Weinandy: What the Church will end up with, then, is a pope who is the pope of the Catholic Church and, simultaneously, the de facto leader, for all practical purposes, of a schismatic church. Because he is the head of both, the appearance of one church remains, while in fact there are two.
The only possible result of this situation is SCHISM. The Church of Rome will effectively cease to be Catholic. Embracing paganism and spiritism will be FORMAL HERESY for the pope, even as pope, will effectively be the leader of a segment of the Church that through its doctrine, moral teaching, and ecclesial structure, is for all practical purposes schismatic.
In his Zeal for Liberation Theology, Francis is intentionally pushing the boundaries that have historically guided the Church. From his “who am I to judge” attitude to pushing to change the church’s stance on sexual morality, real schism is brewing, welcomed, and even being actively advanced by the occupant of St. Peter’s Cathedral. As long as he is in control, he will, I fear, welcome it, for he sees the schismatic element as the new “paradigm” for the future Church.
And so Pandora’s box joyously opens ever wider in the current post-modern papacy. To borrow an insight from Richard Spinello: “Pope Francis’s mindset, which so effortlessly tolerates contradictions and polarities, mirrors the post-modern mentality that celebrates disunity and indeterminacy over unity, continuity, and moral closure.”
The pope and his allies have lyricized all the fragmentation and chaos with the shimmering image of the polyhedron. “If we think of it as a precious stone, [the polyhedron] reflects the light which falls upon it in a wonderfully variegated way,” claims Walter Cardinal Kasper in his glowing book on Martin Luther. Sandro Magister, the renowned Vaticanist, is less poetic. For Pope Francis, he says, “the Church must be made precisely like this: ‘polyhedral,’ with many sides. In plainer words: in pieces.”
Another line keeps flashing through my mind: “Today the whole Church is seen dismembered.” It’s from St. Athanasius’s letter to his fellow bishops in the year 340. In it, the saint calls for his brothers to be “scandalized” by the despoiling of the Faith—and to exemplify courageous fidelity in response. “May what has been preserved in the Churches from the beginning down to the present day not be abandoned in our time; may what has been entrusted into our keeping not be embezzled by us.”
If we do not fight for the Faith, how much more will escape from Pandora’s box? As de Mattei powerfully said of the Amazon synod and its errors: “I call upon the Cardinals and Bishops who are still Catholic to raise their voices against this scandal. If their silence continues, we will continue to seek the intervention of the Angels and Mary Queen of Angels, to save the Holy Church from every form of reinvention, distortion, and reinterpretation.”
This has been the brass ring the Church of nice has been grasping at for a generation. What can we reasonably do to make the Church more culturally relevant to various groups in an international Jurisdiction such as the ICC? This can be a very tricky proposition. Though I agree with a few statements of The 2nd Vatican Council regarding aspects of “truth” being found in other religions. There is a fine line between honoring a particular truth, and actually embracing something ungodly.
The evil we term as Satan is the ultimate expert at deception and lies. However, his greatest success came when he used just enough truth to make his deception sound reasonable. No. Adam and Eve did not die physically due to their fall in the garden. However, their ensuing spiritual death stains the human race until this very day.
The problem with Pope Francis’ language of accompaniment, and learning from sinners is that the learning seems to be one-directional. Job one of the Church is to be educational/catechetical — teaching both believers and unbelievers the truth of salvation in and through Jesus Christ. This also places on us the responsibility of teaching against evil and false teachings.
Here in the US those evils and false teachings are often presented in modernist, moral relativistic theology. In other areas, such as those being tested in the “Amazon Synod,” the challenge is coming from ancient paganism, false gods and idolatry.
Yes, we must understand the traditions and cultures in which we minister. This is so that we may be able to present the truth in light of the errors in our midst.
Francis asks us to accompany and learn from the sinner. This is vanity. Vanity of vanities — there is nothing new under the sun. This language is being utilized to cast confusion on the faithful. In Liberation Theology confusion is used to break down the order of society or an institution in order to reform it in another image.
Traditionalist Catholics such as myself and the other bishops of the International Catholic Confederation are not necessarily afraid of change. But, with that stated we must be able to confront the motivation to change with educated and prayerful reason, in light of the historic deposit of faith.
Each church, including Rome, must avoid change for vanities sake. Appeasing cultural or politically correct pressures is never a justification to contradict apostolic tradition, accepted patristic, or conciliar teachings. Rather than starting something overtly “NEW,” as happened in the Protestant Reformation, the International Catholic Confederation is focused on reclaiming ancient truth — affirming church teachings of the first millennia. KN