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Will Pope Francis be able to rebuild the Church?

5-8-2013

St. Francis of Assisi, whose name the new pontiff has taken, heard the crucified Savior say to him, "Go, Francis and rebuild my Church." These words Bishop Fellay wrote[1] as he offered his best wishes to the newly-elected Pope for a successful pontificate. Now that the spotlight is off the Vatican and each one is going about his business, may we suggest to our readers some thoughts about his ecclesiastical career and how we might obtain insights into his pontificate?
If his work at the head of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires (Argentina) is any indication of the future, it is difficult, perhaps even presumptuous, to be hopeful. Very conscious of the dilapidated state of his clergy, he was unable to improve vocations, seminary training, or continuing formation. Never has the seminary of Buenos Aires had as few seminarians as today.[2] The liturgies presided over by the "Cardinal of the Poor" have been poor in tradition, dignity, and sacrality. With Pope Francis we appear to be on the brink of a return to the bizarre, secular, and even sacrilegious liturgies of Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s pontificates, complete with raucous singing, dancing, and lack of care for the consecrated sacred species. Liturgies[3] as Pope Francis was accustomed to perform as cardinal would be a far cry from Benedict XVI’s efforts to restore some of the dignity worthy of the worship of God.[4]

His position on the pressing moral issues of our day is very much in the spirit of Vatican II - contradictory. He appears to have been outspoken in support of the Church’s condemnation of the evil of abortion. Yet in the fight against the unnatural attempt to create gay "marriages," if his two public letters have been clear statements, his course of action has been a strong defense of the rights of God.[5]


"Go, Francis
and rebuild my Church
."

Concerning the exponential rise of blasphemy in our world, Cardinal Bergoglio revealed more than once his dislike for confrontations over or demonstrations against blasphemous expositions. Is it not akin to a politician who likes to get along with everyone and will ask for peace rather than provoke a confrontation by boldly proclaiming the truth of the moral law?

Unlike his predecessor, but in the footsteps of John Paul II, the Pope seems happy to oblige a media ever ready to turn him into a superstar. Yet this ready-made "Pope of the humble and the poor" could in reality be promoting not personal humility but humiliation of the Church and denial of the rights of Christ. As Bishop Fellay explains in his Letter to Friends and Benefactors:

Works of charity done for the poor, the needy, the infirm, and the sick have always been a true concern for the Church, and we must not excuse ourselves from it, but if it becomes merely man-centered philanthropy, then the Church is no longer carrying out her mission, she is no longer leading souls to God, which can really be done only by supernatural means: faith, hope, charity and grace… Because if people sin for want of that denunciation, they are damned for eternity. The Church’s reason for being is to save them and to help them avoid the misfortune of their eternal perdition.

Some hope was raised when we heard that the Pope desires to dedicate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, in union with the entire episcopal conference of Portugal.[6] Yet we then learned that he expects this dedication to be a mere private act of devotion open to the voluntary participation of the Portuguese hierarchy, rather than a public act of consecration. It is likely then that he will not be the Pope who will end the current, and prevent the future, chastisement by commanding all the bishops of the world to participate in the public consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

We pray that She who has overcome all heresies will inspire the new Vicar of Christ to be another crusader against the modern errors and ecumenical deviations which are obscuring the true face of the Bride of Christ.

Yet at the same time, we have seen gestures from Cardinal Bergoglio and heard statements which forebode something quite different. He participated in false worship in synagogues[7] and in ambiguous ecumenical events with Protestants.[8]

Cardinal Bergoglio participating in synagogue services
 

When asked about the statement of Benedict XVI concerning the Muslims spreading the faith by the sword, the Cardinal answered: "The Pope’s words do not have my support." And he contrasted the former pope to John Paul II, whom he considered skilled at "dialogue" with the Muslim world:

If the Pope [Benedict XVI] fails to recognize the values of Islam, without further development, it seems to me that he will have destroyed in 20 seconds what was built in 20 years.[9]

We could say so much more about his apparent friendliness to communists and the violently anti-Christian Argentinean government, social questions apart, on which is stance, however strong, nevertheless remains humanistic. In his biography El Jesuita [The Jesuit], he praises the work of the theologians of the liberation theology movement[10] as well as Cardinal Casaroli and his Ostpolitic compromise with communist Moscow.[11] The mission of a Pope is not compatible with an attitude of a mercenary politician ready to work for whatever is popular in the world these days. St. Augustine has this to say about mercenaries:

You have heard the wolf coming and have fled. You have fled because you have been silent, and you have been silent because you have feared.

Bishop Fellay, when blessing the cornerstone of the new SSPX seminary in Virginia this past month, explained that this Pope is not a European intellectual but a pragmatic man. This mindset, geared towards action, is seen clearly in his scolding of those Catholics who wish for the return of the pre-conciliar Church, that is the Church of Tradition. The Pope explains:

The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit… some people want to go back. This is stubbornness, this is what we call trying to tame the Holy Spirit, this is what we call becoming foolish and slow of heart.[12]

These words do not bode well for any coming back to sane doctrine or for any acceptable pragmatic solution to the canonical persecution of the Society of St. Pius X through our unjust canonical irregularity. We can imagine that one with this attitude would demand not only an agreement not to criticize Vatican II but an affirmative embrace of this "beautiful work," neither of which exigencies would the SSPX ever accept.

No doubt, the pontificate of Pope Francis will blaze new trails. It would seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from that of the two previous Popes who were university professors. The reigning Pontiff may be more concerned about practical results. Such a desire could be for the good of the Faith and Tradition if the results desired were the rebuilding of the Faith and thereby the Church; although we have many reasons to fear that the results he doggedly pursues will prove more detrimental to the Church than Benedict XVI’s moderate reforms proved favorable. So, more than ever, this is a time for all traditional Catholics to pray for Peter, for the gift of fortitude in fulfilling his mission of "confirming his brethren in the Faith."


Footnotes

1 That Pope Francis may "confirm his brethren in the Faith" (sspx.org).

2 "Last year the archdiocese ordained just 12 new priests, as opposed to 40-50 per year when Bergoglio took over." John L. Allen Jr., April 5, 2013 in National Catholic Reporter.

3 See the Holy Thursday ceremony of the washing of the feet.

4 http://www.dici.org/en/news/cardinal-bergoglio-and-the-society-of-st-pius-x-in-argentina/.

5 We have, for instance, two letters from him, one to the Carmelites with strong statements and another to his clergy. Both are dated June 22, 2010 in anticipation of a bill to be voted on in July.

Fr. Bouchacourt, the District Superior of South America for the SSPX, wrote:

While he wrote a beautiful letter to the Carmelites of Buenos Aires against the homosexual 'marriage' bill – which was unfortunately voted through in the end – he had a regrettable discourse read during the protest against this bill, in which the name of Our Lord was not pronounced even once, while the Evangelistic pastor who spoke before him to excite the crowd delivered a more courageous discourse…

His spokesman, Federico Wals, explained to Veintitres on March 2010:

We oppose [the matrimony for homosexuals] for a juridical reason, not for religious motives. We are not trying to discriminate against same-sex unions. We don’t have a fanatical vision. What we are asking is that the laws are respected... We believe that a more comprehensive civil union [rights] than currently exist has to be proposed, but not [gay] marriage.

Sergio Rubin, Bergoglio's authorized biographer, as well as Marcelo Marquez, report that Cardinal Bergoglio pushed for civil unions for homosexuals:

"Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the 'lesser of two evils,’" said Sergio Rubin. "He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society" (The New York Times, March 20, 2013). This has been recently denied by Miguel Woites in an interview granted to Catholic News Agency ACI Prensa, which only increases the confusion.

6 http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-petrine-ministry-consecrated-to-our-lady-of-fatima.

7 http://www.jta.org/news/article/2013/03/13/3121966/new-pope-francis-i-is-argentinian-cardinal-jorge-maria-bergoglio.

8 For example:

  • June 23; 2006, he attended the IV Encuentro Fraterno organized by CRECES (Renewal Communion of Catholics and Evangelicals in the Holy Spirit) at Luna Park in Buenos Aires.

  • April 2009, he attended a 2-day meeting for Catholic priests and Evangelic pastors organized by the same CRECES in Pilar, Buenos Aires.

  • February 2007, he visited the Biblical Society of Argentina.

  • Cardinal Bergoglio told Greg Venables, the Anglican bishop of Argentina, that the Ordinariate for the Anglicans was unnecessary:

    He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate [creating by the Catholic Church to accommodate alienated Anglicans] was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans.

9 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/9931030/Pope-Francis-run-in-with-Benedict-XVI-over-the-Prophet-Mohammed.html.

10 "They committed as the Church want it and they are the honor of our Society [of Jesus]" says Bergoglio. El Jesuita, Conversaciones con el Cardenal Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., Buenos Aires, Vergara, 2012, p. 82.

11 For Bergoglio, Casaroli is an example of the "Missionary Church", El Jesuita, Conversaciones con el Cardenal Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., Buenos Aires, Vergara, 2012, p. 78.

12 http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Stubborn-are-those-who-would-turn-back-from-Vatican-II,-pope-says-27672.html.

 
 
 

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