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A Devastating Critique

by Christopher A. Ferrara
July 28, 2015

With each passing day, more and more Catholics are speaking out publicly against the alarming tendencies of what Antonio Socci has so aptly called “Bergoglianism” — Francis’ increasingly strange amalgam of certain elements of popular Catholic piety with liberal Jesuit theology from the Seventies and the political opinions of Cardinal Bergoglio.

Consider this polite but devastating critique of the “apocalyptic and utopian Bolivian manifesto” Francis delivered in that country during the same trip on which he received the now infamous “commie-crucifix,” which he defended as “protest art.”  Written by the renowned Jesuit James V. Schall, the critique notes a glaring omission that characterizes the entirety of the Pope’s other manifesto, Laudato si.  Writes Fr. Schall:

As far as I could judge, we find, in this particular address, almost no trace of traditional Christian concerns with personal virtue, salvation, sin, sacrifice, long-suffering, repentance, eternal life, or an abiding vale of tears. Sins and evils are transformed into social or ecological issues that require political and structural remedies.

Exactly so.  Both the Bolivian manifesto and Laudato exhibit the same preoccupation with temporal problems and their political, technical and social solutions.  Is this really appropriate to the divinely instituted office of Vicar of Christ, the universal shepherd of the Catholic faithful who is charged with leading the souls in his flock to Heaven, not demanding vague solutions to the world’s problems in book-length encyclicals addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

Fr. Schall makes another point neglected in most commentaries on the Pope’s enviornmentalism:

The evil is caused by capitalism in the form of money and greed. The free market capitalism, severely limited by the state, that actually exists has little hearing…. Very little is said about actual governments, their make up, or their effects. Almost never do we hear of the modern state, with its bureaucratic hand in almost everything, with its theoretic basis in voluntarism, to be an independent and central problem. For many, it is the state itself that causes most of the dangerous problems that the Pope is worried about. Pope Francis has a theory of tyranny, but not, as in the classic writers, a theory of the tyranny of the state, including the democratic state, as such.

Again, exactly so.  I am certainly no defender of the excesses of capitalism. On the contrary, I wrote an entire book against them.  But how is it that Francis never seems to notice that the modern nation-state is at this very moment in history extinguishing the last vestiges of Christian morality in society, and that its depredations — including legalized abortion and “gay marriage” — are far worse in the scheme of things than the admitted evils of global capitalism?  Does Francis not recognize the tyranny of democracy?

Fr. Schall also rightly takes Francis to task for what he (Schall) is too polite to call fatal naiveté:

Ecology and environmentalism are, however, not just pious theories about caring for the Earth. We have here an overarching theory for the control of population in which contraception, abortion, limited families, “gay marriage”, cloning, euthanasia, and state control of both begetting and [educating of] children are necessary and interconnected components. 

Like Fr. Schall, I would like to know why, given that Francis “is certainly against abortion, euthanasia, and population control,” he has gotten into bed with “advisers who hold these practices necessary in view of theories of ecology…”

Most devastating of all is Fr. Schall’s conclusion in this connection: “We all should be on the side of growth and virtue, not death and control.” But which side is Francis on? Do we look at his words or at his actions?  As we have seen over the past two-and-a-half years of tumult in the Church, the two are often in complete contradiction. That is the problem — nay, the disaster — of this pontificate, a disaster Our Lady of Fatima could not have overlooked in the Third Secret.