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A Most Revealing Passage

by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 10, 2015

In my last column I made reference to the Pope’s indignant address on the last day of Phony Synod 2015, blasting those who had stood in the way of approval for what “the Spirit” — meaning his handpicked, unelected, progressive-dominated drafting committee of ten — was supposedly trying to say through the Synod Fathers.  One paragraph of that address bears further examination as emblematic of Francis’ entire program over the past two-and-a-half years:

It [the Synod] was also about laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.

When it comes to “laying bare” what Francis is really saying here, the best approach is a series of questions that answer themselves:

  • Who exactly are these “closed hearts” that “hide behind” Catholic doctrine and “good intentions”?
  • How exactly does one “hide behind” Catholic doctrine, seeing that it is the truth revealed to us by Our Lord and the Apostles, the truth that makes us free?
  • What exactly are these people supposed to be “hiding” from when they “hide behind” the revealed truth?
  • Who exactly among the Synod Fathers was purporting to sit in the chair of Moses?
  • What exactly are the “difficult cases” the closed-hearted Synod Fathers were supposedly judging in a superficial and superior manner?
  • What exactly was “superior” or “superficial” about their supposed judgments?

Of course we know the answer to all these questions: Francis was attacking the Synod Fathers who opposed his second attempt to pass off the Phony Synod as the voice of “the Spirit” — meaning Francis and his committee of ten — calling for abandonment of the teaching of Benedict XVI, John Paul II and the entire Magisterium for 2,000 years on the impossibility of Holy Communion for people who divorce, remarry and thus live continually in a state of adultery, as Christ Himself declared.

Even that resolute normalist, Jeffrey Mirus, has had enough of Francis’ clumsy demagoguery.  In a piece provocatively entitled “Calling Names without Naming Names: What I like least about Pope Francis,” Mirus politely notes that Francis is no longer fooling anybody, least of all the delighted media:

These remarks were inescapably [his emphasis] interpreted by the media as directed against those commonly regarded as “conservative” or “orthodox”, because the Pope’s words so obviously echo the criticisms voiced by the “progressives” or Modernists. I ask you: Who, in this world of ours, is typically regarded as doctrinaire, dead, judgmental, superficial, blinkered, archaic and incomprehensible?... [T]hese words all describe one thing in the lingua franca of modern secular culture. They refer to people who really do believe it is the truth that sets us free.

Precisely so!  Yet, sad to say, Mirus still felt the need to cover his statement of the truth about Francis with a rhetorical fig leaf: “Now in fact I think Pope Francis is too deep for his words to be taken solely in the usual cultural sense. It is obvious that he does not think in our standard cultural categories, and that he has a deep love of Christ, whom he most certainly regards as the way, the truth and the life.”

Oh, come on, will you? What can Mirus possibly mean when he says that Francis’ unmistakable denunciation of orthodox Catholics — for being orthodox — should not be taken “solely in the usual cultural sense” because Francis is “too deep” for that? What deep meaning is hidden beneath the plain import of such demagogic booing and hissing? Mirus provides no answer.  He provides no answer because he has none. He knows quite well that Francis attacked the defenders of orthodoxy at the Synod because they defended orthodoxy by refusing to adopt explicitly the “Kasper proposal” to admit public adulterers to Holy Communion.

Here is the truth of the matter, and it is time for Mirus and other “conservative” Catholic commentators to confront it squarely: We have a Pope who — for whatever motive, which is for God alone to judge — has openly declared war on the defenders of Catholic doctrine and practice regarding the divorced and remarried, cohabiting couples, and “unions” between the practitioners of sodomy. The declaration of war spans the 85 paragraphs Francis’ draftsmen gratuitously added to the final report of Synod 2014 via the outrageous Instrumentum Laboris, which Francis failed to induce the Fathers at Synod 2015 to adopt as “their” observations.  This alone explains his demagogic outburst at the Synod’s conclusion.

Mirus’ piece ends by remarking, rightly enough, that “this tendency to denounce publicly in general terms, and to accuse without sufficient specificity, is still Pope Francis’ least attractive characteristic as the Vicar of Christ.”  Not bad for starters. But Mirus and his fellow conservatives will have to do a lot better than half-opening their eyes to what is really going on under this Pope. What is going on, just as Sister Lucia warned Cardinal Caffarra some twenty years ago, has been noted here more than once:  It is “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan,” which “will be about marriage and the family.”