Francis continues to make a mess
In a recent piece for Crisis, Regis Martin observes that many of the participants in the Synod on Synodality favor same-sex blessings even though the Church has no authority to bless sinful relationships. At the end of his article, he asks “Where is the Holy Father in all this? We need to know. He needs to tell us.”
“Where is the Holy Father in all this?” Having read many articles by Professor Martin, I’m pretty sure that he meant this as a rhetorical question. “He needs to tell us”? As Martin knows, Francis has already told us where he stands on the issue. He may not have specifically stated that he sanctions the practice, but he has said that he is “open” to same-sex blessings; and those who have followed Francis’ career know that being “open” to something means that he wants to give the novel practice or teaching a few more months to “develop” before he gives it his, er, blessing.
He may not have said so in so many words, but Francis has already “told” us where he stands. He told us when he appointed Cardinal Hollerich to oversee the Synod on Synodality even though Hollerich was on record as saying that the Church needed to change its teaching on homosexuality. He told us when he gave a private audience to Fr. James Martin, S.J., the activist priest who claims that homosexuals and others of the LGBTQ persuasion are not bound by the rule of chastity. Martin’s mission is not to reconcile homosexuals to Church teaching, but to reconcile the Church to homosexuality. Yet Francis has heaped praise on Martin, encouraged him in his ministry and appointed him to an influential position in the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication.
Francis has bestowed similar honors on Sr. Jeannine Gramick, the female counterpart to Fr. Martin, despite the fact that she has been reprimanded, banned, and censured on numerous occasions by various Church officials. Moreover, Francis has a long record of promoting LGBT-friendly prelates to the top positions in the Church.
One doesn’t have to be a Nostradamus in order to predict that Francis will eventually give his okay to same-sex blessings, same-sex “marriage” and whatever else the same-sex lobby demands. In fact, any professional gambler who knows how to tally the odds could predict the same.
Unfortunately, many in the Catholic commentariat seem to lack the ability to figure the odds, meaning that they and their readers are at a loss to know what Francis will do next. For example, take the justifiable claim that Francis aims to replace the Catholic Church with a syncretic humanist Church. Defenders of Francis think it’s a crime to even broach the possibility. They argue that Francis is the pope and the pope’s job is to guard the deposit of faith of the Catholic Church. Therefore, they say, Francis would never replace the deposit of faith with a blended synthesis of various world religions. End of argument.
Yet, the facts suggest otherwise. Francis has already compromised the faith by co-signing the Document on Human Fraternity with Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb. The document falsely claims that Islam and Catholicism are both humanistic faiths which share many common values. The document wasn’t presented as an infallible teaching, and so it is not protected from error. Still, the majority of Catholics don’t check to see which documents are ex Cathedra and which are not, and many will accept as true the seriously misleading picture of Islam and Catholicism presented in the Human Fraternity document.
Even Catholics who are critical of Pope Francis take pains to assure us that his teachings are still within the ballpark. For example, philosopher Edward Feser maintains that “It is very rare…that a pope says something even in his ordinary Magisterium that is manifestly either a sheer novelty or in conflict with existing doctrine. Popes know that their job is to preserve and apply Catholic teaching…if there is some deficiency in such statements, then it will be subtle and take some careful thinking to identify and correct.”
To be fair, Feser wrote this in 2015—several years before Francis began bombarding us with a novelty a day, such as his unsubtle instruction to seminarians that they should forgive all sins in the confessional even if there is no repentance.
Like Feser, many traditional Catholics assure us that, whatever his failings, Francis hasn’t yet crossed the line into serious heresy. Another example of this viewpoint appears in a piece by theology Professor Jacob Wood. He writes: “because God is faithful to his promises, there is no evidence that Pope Francis has committed the mortal sin of formal heresy, the canonical crime of formal heresy, or that he is even a material heretic with regard to any of the Church’s teachings, including the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.”
That was also written in 2015 and for all I know, Professor Wood may have changed his mind since then. As the years pass, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that Francis is not even a material heretic “with regard to any of the Church’s teachings.”
By the way, Wood’s argument begins with a non-sequitur. It does not follow that because God is faithful to his promises, there is no evidence that Pope Francis has committed heresy. Maybe there was less evidence in 2015, but there are boatloads of evidence now. Among other things, there is his reversal of Church teaching on capital punishment, his nonchalant dismissal of “sins below the belt,” his harsh criticism of proselytism and conversion, his contention that sins should be forgiven even if there is no repentance, his openness to same-sex blessings and women’s ordination, and most significantly, his appointments of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of heterodox prelates to positions of power in the Church.
When Christ warns his disciples to “beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing,” he adds, “by their fruits you shall know them.” In other words, they betray themselves by what they produce. And Francis, by his appointments, has managed to produce a small army of heretical bishops and cardinals who, according to Crisis editor Eric Sammons, have “encouraged and promoted” a “massive apostasy within the Church.”
The pro-LGBT prelates whom Francis has elevated have managed to create enormous confusion about sexuality and particularly about homosexuality. And this confusion seems to be reflected in various opinion polls. A 2019 Pew survey found that 61% of U.S. Catholics supported gay marriage and 78% said society should be accepting of homosexuality. Meanwhile, in Western Europe the vast majority of Catholics favor same-sex marriage. A 2017 Pew poll revealed that 92% of Catholics in the Netherlands supported same-sex marriage, along with 83% of Belgians, 78% of Brits, 75% of Spaniards, 74% of French and so on.
Moreover, Pew’s global survey found that Catholics within many countries are as accepting of homosexuality as their non-Catholic compatriots. And in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and the Philippines, Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to be accepting of homosexuality.
At the same time, other polls show that younger Catholics are much more favorably disposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage than their elders. Which brings us back to Francis, who is fond of addressing youth groups and telling them to “make a mess.” In fact, on World Youth Day, 2013, that’s what he told 30,000 young people to do. Back in 2013, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was just his way of connecting with youth. Now, with 10 years of hindsight, we can clearly see that he really wants to make a mess of the Catholic Church: to break and upset and scatter, and sow confusion and chaos—all the better to replace Catholicism with a non-judgmental religion of his own creation.
In following his destructive advice, many youths have indeed made a mess—of their own lives. No good father would encourage his children to make a mess—that is, to follow their instincts and break all the rules. Caring adults know where that attitude leads. But, if I read him correctly, Francis does not see himself as a father, but rather as a mischievous bachelor uncle who likes to stir up a spirit of rebellion in his nieces and nephews and then leaves it to their parents to clean up the resulting mess.
Pictured above: Messy room
Photo credit: Pixabay