Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Has Pope Francis ‘let drop his mask’ -and indicated the untrustworthy nature of the current Episcopate?
When soon after his election Pope Francis was considered to be a liberal it was quickly declared that he is a loyal son of the Church. One wonders if this loyalty is what is being questioned in the remark that he has ‘let drop his mask’, as reported here by LifesiteNews. It is always possible that Francis is simply allowing dissent to come to the forefront so as to override it in the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.
Lifesite, however, records two striking stories around Pope Francis. The first is that the “a seven-page dossier that is now being privately circulated in the Vatican among Curial members who are opposing Pope Francis's recent decision to liberalize the process of marriage annulments” (as linked to above); the second is that a “major appeal by theologians urges Pope to delete ‘seriously defective’ Synod texts on contraception” (see Lifesite News here)
Taken together, these indicate that high-ranking voices are concerned about Pope Francis’s attitude towards immutable doctrine. I cannot help but recall a reaction first voiced in my own living room on the night Francis was elected: “I have a gut feeling that this man thinks that the Church belongs not him as its CEO, not to Christ, and that he will do untold damage to the Faith and the Church”.
When Cardinal Pell defended Francis as a loyal son of the Church it was interesting that the examples he gave were of a pope who is “very, very concerned for the day-to-day life of the people, and for those who are suffering, those not well off and those in difficult situations.” In my opinion the Cardinal’s defence could do little to stem the tide of criticisms of Francis; the two articles linked to above demonstrate a perception by many that Francis is not loyal to The Faith. Unfortunately the picture of Francis as having little regard for the doctrine of The Faith will only be made worse by his ‘selective selection’ of members for the up-coming Synod. As reported by that pinnacle of the Catholic Blogosphere Rorate Caeli, Cardinal Tong Hon seems to have been lied to by the Vatican as to why he is not being invited (age being said to be the reason), since many attending are older than he –including Cardinal Kasper. Meanwhile Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco –a warrior of a Bishop in one of the most sexualised communities in the USA- is exempted for no good reason (other than, like Cardinal Tong Hon, he is likely to hold to the Tradition of the Church). Truly, Francis has to be careful that he is not leaving to history a picture of himself as a Pope willing to manipulate a Synod to favour his personal agenda rather than the Tradition, using an impression of collegiality to do so. If, as I believe, Truth will win out, it may not be in this Synod but later in the Church’s life. After all, if Francis and the Synod can ditch all that has gone before for 2000 years plus, a future Pope and Synod can ditch Francis and the 2014/2015 shenanigans. Indeed those very shenanigans make this a real possibility, so don’t be too afraid of what happens in October. It will be a noteworthy but impotent blip in the history of the Church –ever heard of the Robber Council? It was the later-condemned Ephesus Council II.
The most disconcerting aspect of these shenanigans is that Francis is able to pick and choose among those who make up the episcopate. It is not sad that a Pope has the power to do this; rather, it is sad –if not alarming- that with the current state of the episcopate it is possible for him to choose between those who will and those who will not hold to the Tradition. We should not, as we currently are, hear folk voicing concerns over who will be attending the Synod: we should be able to trust the episcopate implicitly. Sadly, the ‘selective selection’ of those who will attend the Synod demonstrates that we cannot implicitly trust the episcopate. How sad this must be for those Bishops who are or who desire to be faithful to the Tradition but feel held back by their Episcopal brothers who have a liberalising tendency/agenda. Pray and fast for the Synod; God will reward the effort.
As Archbishop Fulton-Sheen would say, “The truth is the truth even if no one believes it, and error is error even if everyone believes it”. And The Truth will eventually win the fight, even if it loses a round at this Synod, because the Truth is Christ, and he has overcome the world.